Why Are Law Firms Ignoring AI?
In analysis / By Andy Lewis / 01 March 2019
AI has been a buzzword for a couple of years now, however the benefits of using this technology has historically been something for firms to “think about in the future” or include in some sort of “roadmap”. Nasstar sponsored some research into Artificial Intelligence adoption in 2018 with the LPM Legal IT Landscapes publication which revealed that 73% of law firms were not using AI in any area of their business.
However, with so much value to be derived from AI platforms for law firms right now, we thought we would accelerate the understanding of AI in general and provide some solutions that are available to you right now.
When we think about artificial intelligence, our knee-jerk reaction is often to see it as a threat and work against it as a way of ‘future-proofing’ our career. This is largely due to the headlines we read in the media from ‘robots taking over the world’, to ‘AI will take your job’, which scare us into thinking AI is a bad thing.
But in many industries, including legal, AI should be viewed in a more positive light by thinking about the benefits it can provide. There is immense opportunity for increasing efficiency simply by working with the technology, as opposed to competing against it. Analysing and checking documents is a tedious task and something that does not benefit from the innate skill of the fee earner. Therefore, those duties are best left to systems in the future, with the skill of the lawyer being focussed on interpreting, output and forming complex strategic decisions to best serve their clients.
According to Deloitte, it is estimated that 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. However, the “experts” are often very wrong about advancements in AI with the finish line coming much sooner than expected. So exactly how is AI going to integrate with our workplace responsibilities and what can we do to ensure we’re prepared for it?
In practices up and down the country, legal professionals are swamped with conducting due diligence to discover background information on behalf of their clients, often a boring and tedious task. However, the load could easily be lightened by using AI technology to complete these tasks with greater efficiency and accuracy – plus, AI doesn’t get bored so can plug away at due diligence all day long! This use of AI will also free-up legal professionals so they can work on the more human elements of their job, such as client relationship building, analysing the resultant research and applying legal statutes and precedents to the facts that AI has uncovered.
There is automation potential everywhere in a law firm, a quick example is calendar booking and call forwarding. The biggest outsourced phone assistant provider Moneypenny is investing heavily into the AI solution space utilising the IBM Watson platform. I would highly recommend visiting their Wrexham head office and seeing their AI platform.
AI capabilities are now so advanced that their analytics skills are often much better than ours. AI-powered software has the ability to improve the efficiency of document analysis by reviewing and flagging documents as relevant, which means it can easily find other documents that are similarly relevant quickly and easily. It can also review contracts to assess risks and issues either individually or in bulk, which can save a lot of time for a legal professional. Legal Robot has had plenty of success in this area and is a good starting point for any firm looking to investigate this technology.
When it comes to data, AI really is king, especially when it comes to mining large volumes of data - a frequent occurrence in the legal sector. Natural language processing and machine learning are highly applicable when it comes to data management and analysis which offers a number of benefits for the legal profession. Information gathered by AI technology can be used to predict case outcomes, develop winning strategies and forecast litigation costs. But perhaps the biggest benefit is the reduced risk of human error which allows associates to present accurate, quality and mistake-free findings to their clients. 12% of large law firms are using AI in this area already in 2019, so this area of AI something you can leverage immediately.
By introducing AI into your legal practice, fee earners will have the ability to take on a more strategic role and perform the job they set out to do. They will also be able to better manage client expectations and provide quality documentation, all thanks to the increase in time they will have to perform cognitive tasks. These are market differentiators and help to preserve your clients and expand your firm.
If you are not utilising AI to maximise efficiency, engage with clients, get better results and maximise fee earning time - your competition is. At the speed AI in legal is moving, how long before you are left behind for good?
At Nasstar, our dedicated legal professional services team can help with fast tracking your journey to harness the power of IT systems and AI.