Law firms are not always known for their high level of innovation, but the recent push towards artificial intelligence (AI) might be one way that solicitors can differentiate themselves from the competition. According to Patrick Fuller, Sr. Director of Legal Intelligence at ALM Intelligence, explained how there are some cultural limitations to AI adoption: “The biggest obstacles for getting firms to adopt AI tend to be combinations of different factors — most notable are lawyer compensation structure, the matter’s fee arrangement and the practice area as well”. The deep knowledge that is required as part of the law becomes much more accessible when barristers have access to every case at their fingertips. It is inevitable that there will be some change, and law firms that are able to embrace new facets of technology are the ones that will have a competitive advantage in the future. See how AI and other data-based technology are becoming the top legal challenges for Vancouver law firms.

AI Set to Disrupt Legal Workflows

Artificial intelligence software excels at taking large quantities of data and quickly sifting through to find the applicable details. If that sounds like the job that has historically been assigned to research assistants and paralegals, you are correct. The introduction of AI to the legal workflow is expected to be extremely disruptive — even transformational in nature. The introduction of computers and digital computer documentation have already made solicitors much more efficient in their operations, and the ability to tap a near-endless flow of digital information has the potential to even the playing field for smaller legal entities that do not have access to the massive research staff of larger firms. “It may even be considered legal malpractice not to use AI one day,” says Tom Girardi in a recent interview with Forbes, renowned civil litigator and the real-life inspiration for the lawyer in the movie, Erin Brockovich. “It would be analogous to a lawyer in the late twentieth century still doing everything by hand when this person could use a computer.” AI’s impact could be felt much further throughout the system than simply expediting research tasks. The overburdened court system stands to benefit from the acceleration of data throughout the courts and legal services.

Managing Change at Law Firms

Practicing law is a traditional field, with levels of hierarchy that have been clearly defined through the centuries. The introduction of AI is likely to challenge many long-held beliefs and standards, such as the need for legions of paralegals and the high dollars in billing that have long been a hallmark of the legal field. Profitability remains at the core of legal firms, meaning that the ability to reduce the overhead while potentially providing a more accurate and timely response to clients and the courts could be the differentiating factor that smaller firms need in order to compete against larger rivals. While well-established legal firms may have the capital to invest in advanced artificial intelligence and data-sharing initiatives, the culture at these organizations may be so highly structured that they fall behind the mainstream in terms of AI introduction. In these cases, partners and senior lawyers may find it beneficial to bring outside IT support in to help manage change throughout the introduction of AI and other beneficial technologies. With a 2018 report stating that the biggest challenge for the last several years for law firms is change management, it may be an ongoing struggle to move in this direction.

Accelerating Document Reviews

While Microsoft Word and other legal word processing software packages have detailed analysis of documents to determine the differences between two versions, artificial intelligence may be able to contribute in this facet of the business as well. AI can be leveraged to accelerate contract review, and the functionality will improve over time with the introduction of machine learning. Once a particular section of a document is denoted as being important, AI tools can step in and identify changes or recommend revisions based on millions of other cataloged documents. According to Andrew Hall in Law Technology Today, “AI can often help sort out problems faster with fewer mistakes that are often overlooked by the human eye”. Computers can be trained to highlight standard clauses that are used across varying documents, allowing barristers to make measured and thoughtful decisions that are based on a broad spectrum of data.

Predicting the Outcome of Legal Cases

If you could tell if a particular case was going to be settled or won before the retainer is accepted, would you want that information? As AI platforms can be trained to sort through millions of previous cases and details, it can potentially sift enough information to determine the outcome of legal cases based on hundreds of years of previous cases. If nothing else, lawyers could use this information to determine whether they should settle a case — and what they can expect to get from the settlement. The question then becomes: Do we truly need lawyers and even judges, or can properly-developed AI provide the cost-effective legal support that the world needs? While it will be decades and possibly generations before that could be considered, there are plenty of ways to leverage these new technology tools to reduce overhead and allow lawyers to spend more time on value-added activities such as counseling, analysis and negotiations.

Practicing law is complex and takes years of study — learning not only the law, but how to accurately apply the concepts to human problems. There is ongoing pressure to provide a more balanced cost to clients, and an investment in AI today may put your law firm in a place of leadership for decades to come. Want to learn more about the opportunities to leverage artificial intelligence for your law firm? Contact the technology professionals at Compunet Infotech today. See how efficient your law firm truly can become, including the advanced security technology that is crucial both now and in the future. Request your complimentary initial consultation online today or contact us at 604-986-8170 to get started.