For decades, people have been leveraging machines to complete repetitive or dangerous tasks. While you generally heard about this in manufacturing positions, there is one profession that is now looking to artificial intelligence (AI) to make a difference in their future: lawyers. The amount of data that flows through law firms is truly staggering, and AI may be the way that lawyers are able to quickly sort through thousands of details to find the nugget of information that is needed — or even to predict how a particular court is going to rule based on all of their past decisions. See how high-tech AI law firms are becoming the wave of the future in Canada.
The practice of law has not changed dramatically in the last 50 years, other than the addition of personal computers to the process. Solicitors still rely on support from other individuals to wade through the mountains of paperwork and millions of words that are included in complex cases, all the while attempting to predict the future to sidestep or outsmart their opponents. When you consider the change that has occurred for other professions, it is clear that the practice of law was overdue for some fundamental changes to the way barristers practice law. Lawyers previously relied on personal intuition and knowledge to make the best decisions on behalf of their clients. The introduction of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and more provides an opportunity for expert systems to assist in the decision-making process by comparing current data against decades of legal decisions.
Lawyers are always looking for ways to work smarter and more efficiently, and machine learning may be the next step in that evolution. Software that utilizes AI and complex algorithms to analyze forms, contracts, images and other data allows more time for individual analysis of high-level concepts. There is a great deal of due diligence required by law firms, and these tools can dramatically reduce the amount of time required to reach an actionable decision for your clients. The shift to becoming an AI law firm has not been a quick one, as some legal practices are still wary about the efficacy of such systems. The firms that are willing to take the leap are the ones that are most likely to differentiate themselves in the future, by providing efficient, effective and fast answers to complicated questions of law. During a recent interview with Law Times, Bereskin & Par LLP partner Isi Caulder addressed the concern that some lawyers are feeling when presented with the new technology. “People are freaked out that machines will replace humans. Lawyers are not going anywhere. They are still going to be needed to assist clients. We might need a different type of lawyer though, who can integrate AI tools skilfully,” Caulder says.
Computers are not at the point quite yet where they can replace humans, as there are still great leaps of intuition and gut instinct that are utilized at law firms throughout the world. What AI does is allow barristers to prove or disprove their theories more rapidly, while gaining crucial data-backed support for professional hunches. “Artificial intelligence adds a dimension to your thinking,” says Chodikoff in a recent interview with Canadian Lawyer magazine. “The analysis identifies insights that you might not have thought of and may lead you to a case that adds to your approach to a particular issue. That’s invaluable – you can’t put a price on that.” Lawyers are able to quickly research thousands of cases that have been indexed into massive databases, information that would have been nearly impossible to work through in a world without Big Data.
Not every law firm is ready to jump onboard with artificial intelligence, but approximately 29% of firms in a 2017 study from Altman Weilnoted that they were starting to consider adopting AI and machine learning tools that will push the envelope on innovation. These cognitive technologies are expected to create a significant digital disruption in Canadian law firms, with even smaller firms having access to advanced technology that will help sort through terabytes of data within minutes.
Lawyers are always conscious of the hours that are being billed, and looking for ways to make their practice more affordable for clients while still maintaining required levels of revenue. The necessity of analyzing hundreds or thousands of documents can often mean a hefty fee, but that doesn’t necessarily endear barristers to their clients. Clients are looking for ways to ensure that they receive a high level of assurance that their lawyers is following the correct path while balancing these results with the overall cost of their case. As enhanced AI tools reduce the amount of time needed for data analysis, they are also keeping client costs in terms of billable hours under control. Small firms are expected to see significant benefits, as they are able to effectively provide service for more customers while using fewer personal resources.
Cloud storage of data has been utilized for years, and many law firms are now comfortable with the practice for even their most sensitive data. While there may be some additional concerns around data security due to the use of artificial intelligence, AI law firms are seeing the true value of these systems. Data is power in the practice of law, and if your competitor has access to this type of information they are one step further ahead even at the beginning of a case. While data security is a concern for organizations of all sizes, it can be particularly troubling for law firms due to the sensitive nature of their work and the sheer amount of personal information that is being stored. This makes it crucial to work with a trusted data services provider with robust security procedures and tools in place at all times.
If your law firm has not yet started down the path to leveraging advanced technologies such as machine learning, it is not too late to get started. The next few years will prove to be a crucial shift in the way that Canadian law firms operate, and organizations can recognize a significant competitive advantage by implementing these advanced tools. When you are ready to see how AI and machine learning can enhance your Canadian law firm, or want to learn more about data security contact the professionals at Compunet Infotech today at 604-986-8170 or fill out our quick online contact form.
April 15, 2019
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