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What’s The Future Of AI In The Legal Industry? 12 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 29 September 2019
  • Sam Mire

There are plenty of reasons to invest in artificial intelligence, though it makes more sense for some firms than others. We had industry insiders weigh those benefits against the barriers to AI in the legal industry, cost among them. That's how they got their predictions of the future of AI in the legal sector. Here's what they said:

1. Avi Brudner, Chief Operating Officer at Blue J Legal

“In the immediate future, AI will enable lawyers to focus on the highest value work for their clients. Machines can handle much of the busy work that used to eat up hours of time, and AI is increasingly being applied to more complex tasks. This frees up human expertise to think more creatively and effectively, once freed up from the minutiae.

Further down the road, there’s real potential for bringing clarity to the law. Applying artificial intelligence to past cases illuminates trends and patterns that aren’t always visible to humans reading these cases. Once these instances of inconsistency or confusion are brought to light, there’s the possibility for reform in order to ensure access to justice is equitably distributed and judgments are more consistent even in the most complex areas of law.”


2. Thomas J. Hamilton, LL.B., B.C.L., VP, Strategy and  Operations at Ross Intelligence

“It's going to be very Interesting! We're currently at the beginning of “out-of-the-box” narrow applications of AI in law that will spread quickly, and the next step will be partnerships between different leaders in the industry. So for instance ROSS, our legal research tool, is an AI system that use natural language processing to get you extremely relevant answers to your questions about the law. We'll always continue to improve the power of our core search, but now we're in the process of also partnering with other legaltech leaders who focus on other aspects of legal technology, to essentially build complementary suites of technology. At the same time, we've intentionally provided the option for any attorney to trial our technology, no strings attached, for 14 days of unlimited use so we can ensure that anyone who is interested can see first hand how AI can help.”


3. Cat Casey, Chief Innovation Officer at DISCO

“AI will continue to drive efficiency and enable attorneys to focus more time on higher functions within their legal practice. I anticipate that as firms and corporate legal departments integrate AI and see the benefits offered in areas like contract analytics and ediscovery, practitioners and organizations will be more willing to adopt AI in other applications.”


4. Eric Podlogar, IP Market Lead at ktMINE

AI provides the legal industry an unparalleled ability to process large volumes of data and quickly distill them down to salient insights and conclusions. This, in turn, provides legal firms with the flexibility to pursue more challenging scenarios.”

 


5. Don Tuggener, Head of Research at Legartis

“AI is intended to simplify contract negotiations, among other things. It should therefore help to focus on the essentials in the negotiation process. This, however, requires a rethinking in the legal sector. In the future, for example, standardized formulations will have to be considered so that the greatest possible benefit can be derived from Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. Even if it is not possible to make concrete time forecasts, I am very confident that very satisfactory and useful results will then be achieved.”


6. Noory Bechor, co-founder and CEO of LawGeex

“AI will become so ubiquitous that legal teams that haven’t deployed it will be considered out-of-touch — like they’re still using typewriters instead of computers to do word processing. AI-powered solutions will increasingly be considered commonly-available technology. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct require that lawyers be competent, and that includes keeping up with new technology. Failing to implement commonly-used technology can be grounds for a malpractice claim. From a technology point of view, conversational user interfaces could extend to legal AI, where systems will be able to respond to queries verbally, as Amazon’s Alexa does. Imagine being able to say, “AI, what’s our policy on arbitration for NDAs?” without having to stop to look it up!”


7. Stewart J. Guss, Attorney At Law

“The number one benefit that AI brings to the practice of law is the ability to process and evaluate large numbers of documents and large amounts of data in a fraction of the time required by humans. While AI will never replace the independent judgment of a “living, breathing” legal professional, AI can assist lawyers and their staff in rapidly finding those documents, facts, or aspects of a large and complex case which require closer inspection and evaluation. From the perspective of someone who composed MORE than their share of deposition summaries back in the dark ages, I cannot stress how helpful this technology is for lawyers and staff during or in preparation for trials and hearings.”


8. Benjamin Alarie, CEO of Blue J Legal

Ben AlarieIn the immediate future, AI will enable lawyers to focus on the highest value work for their clients. Machines can handle much of the busy work that used to eat up hours of time, and AI is increasingly being applied to more complex tasks. This frees up human expertise to think more creatively and effectively, once freed up from the minutiae. 

Further down the road, there’s real potential for bringing clarity to the law. Applying artificial intelligence to past cases illuminates trends and patterns that aren’t always visible to humans reading these cases. Once these instances of inconsistency or confusion are brought to light, there’s the possibility for reform in order to ensure access to justice is equitably distributed and judgments are more consistent even in the most complex areas of law.”


9. Katherine Pawlak, Partner at Wasserman, Bryan, Landry & Honold and Rasmussen College Paralegal Instructor

“AI will continue to grow in the legal sphere. Each year new technologies and tools are presented to attorneys to assist in advising clients and to produce higher quality work faster and at a lower cost. Those technologies will continue to grow in the future. AI won't replace face-to-face client interactions or sophisticated relationships, but we will see increased reliance on AI to provide higher quality services to clients.”


10. Richard Mabey, co-founder and CEO of Juro

“Right now, we’ve reached a level of predictive accuracy that means we can commoditize a layer of repeatable, cookie-cutter tasks. In the future, if processing power and the available quantities of data increase sufficiently, AI will be able to move closer to active decision-making and judgment calls. That might be in litigation, or in contract negotiation, or even with online courts – but we’ll need some significant leaps forward in data and processing power to get there.”


11. Michael Fetzer, CTO & Co-Founder of Legartis

“AI should be a helpful tool for people – and thus also for lawyers. It will not lead us to complete automation of every task, it will not simply replace humans. Just as a tool will not simply take over or carry out the complete work in the workshop. But data will certainly become more accessible and manageable for us.”


12. Kenneth A. Grady, Adjunct Professor and Research Fellow at Michigan State University College of Law

AI has a mixed future in law. Near term, its impact will be limited to areas such as legal research, high volume document review, and pockets of repetitive activities in areas such as contracts. Medium term, AI will expand into other areas where patterns can be identified. Some interesting possibilities include statutory compliance, quasi-legal areas such as tax, and preventive law (predicting where legal issues may arise).

Longer term, AI’s future in law depends on the success (or lack of success) technologists have in developing AI that can understand and manipulate words in the complex system known as law. This is not a trivial challenge and one of the reasons McKinsey & Co. and others predict that law will be one of the last areas to see major impacts from AI. The other major factor in AI’s longer-term prospects is cultural adaptation. We already have studies suggesting that AI systems could be more consistent than humans in areas such as sentencing following criminal convictions and parole decisions. But humans prefer to have humans make such decisions. This bias raises the question: While AI may be capable and even better than humans at certain tasks in law, do we as a society want to turn over those tasks to computers?”

About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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