How Will AI Disrupt the Legal Industry?

  • 28 February 2018 04:00:07 PM
  • By Jnana Settle

Experts on the leading edge of science, technology, and business all agree that artificial intelligence, or AI, represents the next big leap in the world of technology. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and wildly successful billionaire, stated in 2017 that he predicts that the world’s first trillionaire will be someone who masters AI and applies it in ways we never thought possible. AI applications continue to flood the market, as evidenced by the home assistant wars waged by Amazon, Google, and Apple as all three technology giants maneuver for a share of the increasing market for consumer AI products.

Meanwhile, AI is slowly encroaching into the business and legal world as well as the consumer market. The legal industry, which has long resisted change of any significant sort, appears to many to be on the brink of an intense disruption that is precipitated, at least in part, by what AI has to offer. In an effort to gain a wide industry perspective on the timing and nature of how this is coming to pass – or already has – we asked 11 legal industry experts to answer the same question: How Will AI Disrupt the Legal Industry?


1. Bob Schrader, Esq,  Consultant at Creative Commercial Solutions, ATD Mediation

Legal practice, particularly litigation and document intensive transactions, already heavily rely on software to find specific terms (issues,dates, names, etc.) when searching through millions of pages of documents. Having used these, the old GIGO rule applies,so it is important that properly phrased searches are created, which requires understanding the underlying issues/objective. Especially for lower level (and I'm sure for much more complicated issues), AI is well suited. There are additional ethical issues involved in legal practice. Ultimately, the attorney is ethically (and legally) responsible if a subordinate errs, the same would hold true if software was not properly used. Most bars have rules related to responsibility for associates, paralegals, and have just started dealing with outsourcing whether in the US or overseas. I would anticipate that AI capabilities to help in the legal field will occur well before bar ethic rules are in place to deal with issues.


2.  Benjamin Alarie, University of Toronto, CEO of Blue J Legal

AI is already disrupting the law—gradually. Digital disruption in law today is at about where computing was when it relied on punch cards.

Lawyers will continue to rely on computing tools to make sense out of increasingly complex legislation and volumes of case law.

Eventually, the world's legal system will have transitioned into digital and things will be massively more complex and, for most people, more transparent, predictable and accessible too.


3. Eric Sanchez, Chief Product Officer of GrowPath

AI is already disrupting the legal industry — and nearly every other industry as well. There is value in data; the legal industry lags behind many sectors when it comes to understanding and using that data. The key reason AI has not disrupted law more readily is the lack of data – firms with large data sets, adapting to the new technology will have an advantage. There are already cutting edge services like Ross Intelligence which greatly reduce research time. At GrowPath, we see organizing the attorney workflow, and indexing the organized data as inputs for neural networks, to develop business insights and predictive analytics. This has value ranging from predicting the direction of cases to damage valuation. As AI technology becomes more prevalent and accepted areas like cybersecurity, customer service, and client interaction will be impacted in the legal industry as they are in other industries.


4. Haley Altman, CEO and Founder of Doxly, Inc.

There has been an increase in the adoption of AI in the legal industry.

AI continues to be used more frequently to review data, searching document databases, and potentially for drafting briefs which will provide more value to the client.

AI has allowed attorneys to focus on their clients instead of conducting research.


5. Kevin L. Miller, CEO of LegalSifter

Lawyers will use artificial intelligence to offer self-service and partial-service products to their clients.  Lawyers think, read, and write for a living.  Historically, they have not had technology that mimics what they do, so they have not scaled.  They offer full-service products that are too expensive and too slow for much of the world’s transactions.  Artificial intelligence has finally arrived in formats that will change that.  Entrepreneurial attorneys will figure out how to combine their service with these new tools, inventing new ways to serve their customers in ways that makes legal services much more affordable than it is today.  There are 7.5B people on earth and 80% live on less than $10 a day. Most people cannot afford a lawyer, but they all need one.  In the future technology will allow lawyers to scale and deliver their knowledge to the world.


6. Dan Garrett, CEO and Co-Founder of Farewill

Legal products and services focused first and foremost on the consumer. Aspects of civil litigation will become automated, enabling far more people to access the court system, should they need to.

Natural language processing – a subset of AI – will help predict which documents will be relevant to a particular case.

Plainly, automation of things like advising clients and court advocacy are some way off, but if technology helps close information asymmetries at the point of writing contracts, there may well be less litigation.


7.  Marc Lamber, Attorney at Fennemore Craig, P.C

At present, attorneys often need to find that all important needle in haystacks – sifting for a conclusive insight through often thousands of pages, if not more, of text from related cases and from various legal and specialty treatises. AI helps to reduce this amount of crushing information into a more manageable amount, shrinking down the size of the various haystacks. In its nascent stages, AI currently represents increased efficiencies. For instance, a lawyer can request a memo via AI, asking it to write a response based on a particular question. The attorney can then edit this memo, which saves hours in the drafting process.


8. Alex J. Hargrove, J.D. of NetLaw

That's a great question. AI is being used to better serve the DIY legal community as well as better help the underserved that normally would not be able to afford an attorney. What's interesting is that over a billion dollars in VC backed money has flowed to startups in the DIY legal space, and yet there has been little if any improvement in the quality of the underlying product. Sure you have lots of fancy user interfaces using the latest design patterns and the like. Plenty of gimmicky features. But very little by way of substance, which is why year after year consumer reports and various media outlets steer consumers away from DIY services.


9. Charles Lee Mudd Jr., Attorney and Principal at Mudd Law

AI will help improve the legal industry.  It will substantially improve legal research and analysis.  It will enable firms to be more efficient.  It will streamline the use of associates and other teams members so that their time can be spent on other aspects of representation.  AI will certainly not displace the need for associates or support staff.  Rather, it may change their tasks and facilitate efficiencies in providing client representation.  For one, I am excited about these possibilities.


10. Nicole Black, Lawyer, Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase

The next legal technology frontier is undoubtedly artificial intelligence, with new AI legal software products popping up every day. Many of these programs have the potential to displace administrative assistants, paralegals, and entry-level lawyers — or, at the very least, will replace some of the more mundane tasks undertaken by lawyers in the day-to-day practice of law. While we’re still in the early stages of AI technology, one thing is clear: the potential for change is incredible. But the timing and actual adoption of AI software into law firms is very much up in the air.  Nevertheless, all signs point to AI having an indisputable impact on the way that law firms –  both big and small – will function in the not-so-distant future.


11. Stacey Burke, Law Firm Business Consultant and Marketing Specialist

Artificial Intelligence (AI) may eliminate unskilled positions in the legal industry, but it can also help streamline processes like new case intake.

Furthermore, lawyers will more easily be able to quantify the various metrics they need to review to keep their businesses profitable and efficient.

With regard to work/life balance, many believe AI has the potential to reduce the number of hours lawyers have to work – but to me that could be concerning considering many attorneys make their money through hourly billing.

Jnana Settle

Ma Jnana Settle is a Texas-licensed attorney who was born and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Since graduating from law school at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in 2016, she has pursued two careers simultaneously. As a lawyer, her law firm is situated in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. She practices in the areas of real estate, estate planning, and small business law. In addition, she is a prolific legal content writer and avid legal tech nerd. Her articles have been published by the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association, in addition to her articles on Disruptor Daily. She ghostwrites legal content for other lawyers that ends up as blogs, legal articles, and continuing legal education programs throughout the U.S. She can be reached at jsettle@thesettlelawfirm.com

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