Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most revolutionary technologies ever to enter the business world. From finances to entertainment, AI is reshaping how many industries go about their work. But what about practicing law? While legal professionals have been slower to embrace this technology, AI for lawyers is a growing field.
Legal firms spent approximately $12 billion on AI in 2017, and experts expect that figure to reach $85 billion by 2027. While ethical concerns hamper AI adoption in some legal applications, many processes are ripe for AI disruption. As these technologies continue to improve, AI in law will only grow.
Here are five legal fields where AI can bring considerable benefits to lawyers and their clients. This list is by no means exhaustive, either. AI in law is a relatively new and continually expanding concept.
AI in criminal law may be a more widespread phenomenon than you realize. Police forces have used predictive crime mapping algorithms for years now, and some courts have turned to AI to manage parole. In Loomis v. Wisconsin, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin approved the use of a risk assessment algorithm that determined the defendant was too high-risk to receive parole.
AI in sentencing is an area of contention for many, but criminal lawyers can use AI in other, less controversial areas. Most notably, machine learning algorithms can analyze past cases to predict an outcome. These predictions can then guide lawyers in their preparation and strategy.
For example, some AI can predict what may prove most persuasive for a specific judge, given their history. You can then prepare a more compelling argument to defend your client. These algorithms are remarkably accurate, making them a helpful resource in any case.
Criminal cases are far from the only use of AI for lawyers. In some ways, this technology is even more helpful in other areas, like civil litigation. Contract disputes, for instance, require hours of due diligence that AI can automate, saving you hours of monotonous work.
For example, many recent contract disputes revolve around force majeure claims from COVID-19, which can be a complicated undertaking. In some industries, most contract language doesn’t use the term force majeure, so establishing such a claim requires in-depth contract analysis. AI algorithms can analyze contracts and related documents to highlight language that would help your case.
Doing this manually can take hours, taking away from your busy schedule and making things more expensive for your client. Automating it at least in part, through AI, is far more efficient. These algorithms may also highlight language you could’ve overlooked in the monotony of manual analysis.
Securing patents, trademarks, and copyrights can be a long and complicated process. Despite being time-sensitive, these applications require long hours of searching through countless similar documents. Just as AI can save time by analyzing contracts, it can automate much of the research in intellectual property applications.
Some trademark AI programs can provide results in as little as 15 seconds, whereas manual approaches could take days. Algorithms are typically far faster than humans at data-heavy tasks like this and often more accurate. While the tasks they automate may seem small at first, they lead to considerable time and monetary savings.
AI can also help intellectual property lawyers ensure their forms fit all the requirements. Intelligent programs can automatically format documents according to up-to-date regulations and check for wording errors. With resources like this, you can secure your clients’ intellectual property faster and without mistakes.
Another promising application of AI in law is corporate functions like mergers, acquisitions, and compliance. Due diligence in corporate matters is often even more laborious than disputes between individuals since there’s more at stake. The efficiency benefits of AI are indispensable here, but perhaps more important is AI’s accuracy.
In one study, AI was 94% accurate in recommending changes in non-disclosure agreements, while lawyers were just 85% accurate. Looking over pages upon pages of corporate contracts can be tedious, which often leads to errors when humans do it unaided. Computer programs don’t have that issue, so they’re ideal in these data-heavy, analytical tasks.
Corporate lawyers can use AI to ensure they draft the most beneficial contracts for their clients. Similarly, these programs can highlight errors or points of contention in drafts from the other party. Partnerships, M&As, and similar proceedings go much more smoothly with less risk of future litigation.
Tax law is another data-heavy, complicated, and often tedious field, making it ideal for AI. Tax agencies across the globe use AI to detect fraud and tax avoidance. AI for lawyers can provide similar services, helping ensure clients are in good tax standing or dispute fraud claims.
Just as AI can find errors within a contract, it can find inconsistencies in a clients’ tax filings. Similarly, AI programs can review past tax litigations to find precedence that would prove helpful in defending your client. Tax regulations are complex and feature abundant loopholes, and AI’s knack for data analysis can help highlight these.
Finding ways to improve what companies would’ve otherwise overlooked is of the most popular AI applications in other industries. AI can make connections between data points that humans may miss, providing reliable, out-of-the-box solutions. These same benefits translate into tax law, where lawyers can use AI to make connections within local tax regulations to defend their clients.
AI in Law Is Something Every Lawyer Should Consider
These five examples are just a small sampling of the applications of AI in law. While these technologies may not be suitable for every case or task, they can apply to many different areas. AI’s potential is so vast that any lawyer should at least consider how they could use it.
As AI continues to improve, more firms will adopt it. Before long, it could become an industry standard among lawyers. The legal profession has likely only scratched the surface of what AI can do for it.