You’ve probably heard the buzz around AI in recent years. But it’s not just a buzzword or an idea confined to the realms of science fiction. At least, not any longer.
Whether it’s ChatGPT, virtual assistants, NLP chatbots, or autonomous vehicles, AI is becoming increasingly interwoven into the fabric of daily life, disrupting and transforming everything in its path.
The legal industry is no exception to this sweeping technological revolution. From the way contracts are drafted to the analysis of legal frameworks, AI’s influence is being felt across every facet of the business.
So what are the potential applications of artificial intelligence in the legal industry? And how can these new technologies benefit legal professionals? Join us as we discuss the future of law in an AI-driven world.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an all-encompassing term, albeit one that can be somewhat of a misnomer.
For the layman, the phrase may conjure images of highly advanced robots with human-like consciousness capable of complex thought processes. While this captivating vision could be the reality at some point in the not-so-distant future, it’s important to recognize that we haven’t yet reached that transformative inflection point.
In its current form, AI encompasses computer systems meticulously crafted to simulate human intelligence. They’re designed to perform specific functions that we typically associate with human cognition, including:
As this list suggests, AI represents a significant departure from traditional technology advancements, which were primarily concerned with faster and more accurate processing. Today’s AI technology transcends these constraints by embracing roles and functions that were once believed to be exclusively human.
As McKinsey notes, “AI is a machine’s ability to perform the cognitive functions we associate with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with an environment, problem-solving, and even exercising creativity.”1
Modern AI has been greatly influenced by three key technologies. They include:
The legal industry has already been deeply impacted by AI technology.
What is ASR? Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology can translate spoken language into written text. It does this by utilizing language modeling and natural language processing algorithms that can recognize, comprehend, and interpret human speech patterns. This technology has developed and advanced continuously over the course of ASR history.
The most obvious application for this advanced AI tool is the rapid and accurate transcription of legal proceedings or client meetings. The technology is a helpful transcription tool that may be much more effective and cost-efficient than traditional human-based transcription services. This is because it can handle English, accented English, or numerous other languages.2
In the past, court reporters relied solely on a steno machine —capable of capturing up to 300 words a minute—but the emergence of ASR is revolutionizing the court reporting process. Now, in addition to stenography, digital reporting is an acceptable method for capturing a verbatim record. A digital reporter, trained and certified by the AAERT, uses high-definition recording equipment and microphones to capture audio, which can be processed through an ASR engine to produce a draft transcript.
Both pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) are essential for law firms to draw in new clients and keep retaining existing ones. PPC can provide overnight results by artificially boosting your content or ads to the top of the search results page (SERPs), whereas SEO is a big-picture strategy that might take months of continued effort to move the needle.
For instance, with paid ad campaigns, AI can analyze large datasets, predict user behavior, optimize ad placements, optimize ad bidding, and then run performance analytics to see what works and what doesn’t. This leads to more effective marketing strategies and better returns on investment, enabling law firms to enhance their online visibility while targeting their ideal audiences.3
AI could potentially also help:
Many law firm websites have begun to integrate legal chatbots onto their front page. These bots serve as virtual assistants, helping potential clients with routine inquiries and guiding them through the proper legal processes.
Rather than waiting for a human response, these chatbots can:
While these bots can’t ever replace the human aspect of interacting with clients, they can potentially improve client engagement and streamline operations by addressing the more routine concerns. The fact that chatbots work 24/7 can help ensure that potential clients receive timely responses and assistance, even outside of regular business hours.
This could, in turn, increase customer satisfaction and provide a more efficient client onboarding process.
In the pre-digital days, there were dozens of admin tasks that might require several assistants. But now, routine tasks like invoicing, scheduling, and client reminders could be handled by AI and monitored by a single individual.
AI software can seamlessly integrate with legacy systems to provide automated invoicing, appointment scheduling, and timely client reminders. This opens up myriad benefits including:
AI can assist lawyers in conducting comprehensive legal research, analyzing vast amounts of legal texts, precedents, and regulations. If the AI tool is properly trained on the right data sets, and has the appropriate human supervision, it can provide insights, suggest relevant case law, and help in decision-making, making legal research more efficient and well-informed. Common use cases include:
Contract analysis is a meticulous task that requires considerable time and attention from legal professionals. AI may be able to streamline this process, thus lightening the workload.
By providing the necessary inputs, AI-powered tools can summarize and analyze contracts, helping lawyers identify potential issues faster than manual reviews. This allows law firms to focus on final reviews while significantly reducing the time spent on each legal document.
Additionally, AI could potentially be applied to help with legal compliance and risk management, analyzing the various factors that might potentially pose a risk to the law firm, protectively managing such risks, and ensuring compliance with various regulations.
It’s important to consider the importance of human oversight for AI, especially when it comes to the legal industry. Without it, the quality and credibility of legal representation may be at risk. Therefore, trained legal professionals should be tasked with checking the work, monitoring the systems, and providing legal advice.
The AI transformation of the legal industry is already underway. And its progress and ubiquity will only accelerate over the next decade.
From rapid transcription with ASR technology to AI chatbots providing instant responses to clients, the legal profession can benefit from enhanced efficiency, reduced labor costs, and improved decision-making possible with AI. Embracing this new technology could allow firms to focus on complex tasks, make informed choices, and streamline administrative processes.
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Content published on the U.S. Legal Support blog is reviewed by professionals in the legal and litigation support services field to help ensure accurate information.