The growing influence of Artificial Intelligence in the field of Law

by March 20, 2019 0 comments

With increasing dominance of Artificial Intelligence in many fields, it has now become a boon for law, says Dr Purvi Pokhariyal  

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a dominant technology in our daily lives. Whether you are doing a Google search on your smartphone, ordering your Alexa device to play songs, interacting with humanoid customer executives in a bank or responding via smart replies in Gmail, all of these are AI. Now, while AI as technology has immense benefits, the fact that it is taking over human jobs can’t be ignored.

Being in a knowledge-driven sector, law firms repeatedly produce massive amounts of data. It is a mammoth task to review endless documents, summarise notes, find relevant law codes and case studies and classify/sort information manually. However, for decades, the law professionals have relied on their expertise, know-how, logic, reasoning, diligence, judgement and integrity to execute these tasks and perform their jobs. Call them a professional hazard or intelligence gathering tools; research, studies and document reviews are integral to the law industry.

The law professionals have been earning handsomely for doing this kind of manual work. Having said that, can we deny that these tasks are administrative in nature and consume too many man-hours? If AI-driven software or robots can take over these repetitive tasks and spare more time for humans to focus on more strategic jobs, there is no much-perceived harm.

In fact, several law firms have started deploying AI to do certain jobs. For instance —Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas was the first Indian law firm to use AI-software to identify, analyse and extract clauses and other information from contracts and other types of legal documents.

WongPartnership became the first Singapore law firm to actively engage AI to ‘enhance its lawyers’ ability to conduct due diligence and other contract review processes more effectively and efficiently’ in merger and acquisition transactions.

Law functions that AI can automate: AI can offer automation opportunities in the following legal functions:

Document research, review and drafting

Review and maintain contracts

Structure huge amounts of data

Improve the accuracy of findings

Make initial recommendations on legal outcomes

Conduct due diligence

Provide data points from past cases through analytics

Filing patents

Now the question arises that if AI can do these jobs, then would the law be a lucrative career in future? The answer is yes. Like in any other industry, the role of AI in the legal sector is to make repetitive processes faster and more efficient. This will help the law professionals to relieve themselves from the routine jobs of paperwork, timesheets and interactions to reduce their billable time, pass on the cost savings to the clients and provide better services. They will be able to focus more time on more important tasks such as negotiating deals, framing law policies, actively participating in regulatory meetings, advising clients and making court appearances.

The law professionals have to remember the fact that human brains are more intelligent than any machine. Humans have thinking and logical reasoning ability that machines do not have yet. So, law professionals will still be in demand, albeit for the roles which call for human interaction/appearances, cognitive ability, instincts and decision-making.

Moreover, AI can’t replace the trust factor and relationship building with clients. As humans, we still tend to trust other humans than machines to converse.  The law professionals may lose clerical jobs to AI, but when it comes to applying brains and collaborating with people, they will have a definite edge over technology.

AI in the legal industry is still in the nascent stage. AI technology is inaccessible and expensive at present. Moreover, the laws regarding the acceptability of AI in the legal sector are ambiguous and rather non-existent. It will take several years for AI to show its full impact and justify its usage in the replacement of certain legal services. Going forward, AI is more likely to act as virtual assistants to law professionals. As far as the experience and judgement are concerned, no legal technology can beat the law professionals.

The writer is Director and Dean, Institute of Law, Nirma University

Writer: The Pioneer

Courtesy: Dr Purvi Pokhariyal

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