Recently, DoNotPay offered a $1 million reward to any lawyer who would deliver oral arguments in the Supreme Court on behalf of its OpenAI ChatGPT 3-powered Robot Lawyer. While DoNotPay couldn’t find any takers in the highest court in the land, it did find willing defendants who needed representation for traffic violations in municipal court.
But ultimately, DoNotPay didn’t follow through with their decision to serve as defense in those cases after several State Bar prosecutors sent letters threatening DoNotPay with legal action. And now, DoNotPay is facing a class action lawsuit for practicing the law without a license.
So, it doesn’t look like artificial intelligence (AI) will be arguing your next case in court, but it is definitely going to be doing a lot of work behind the scenes. If you have a case that is going to trial, then AI is going to be used for everything from conducting discovery and legal research to reviewing contracts and writing briefs related to your case. Lawyers will even use AI to predict the outcome of cases, so they can determine what the best strategy is moving forward, or to figure out if taking the case is even worth their time.
Without a doubt, this will disrupt the legal industry, but it’s not going to replace good lawyers. Instead, it’s going to help us all save a lot of time and money, and work toward an efficient, equitable legal system. Let’s explore four ways that AI is going to impact the legal industry.
Before a case ever goes to trial, both parties engage in electronic discovery, most commonly referred to as e-discovery. During this process, both parties exchange electronically stored information (ESI) that will be presented at trial, such as digital documents, emails, text messages, social media posts, databases, audio and video files and so on. When done manually, e-discovery is an arduous, time-consuming, and error-prone task. But with an e-discovery solution, law firms can easily organize and search through ESI, which saves a lot of time and money as lawyers prepare their case while allowing them to focus their attention on higher value tasks.
With an injection of AI, e-discovery is about to become an even more valuable tool. Whereas traditional e-discovery solutions do a good job of preparing and organizing data and making it easier to search, AI-powered e-discovery tools can actually interpret that data, predict the relevance of each ESI as it relates to the matter, and bring the most important information to the surface. By relegating that task to AI, lawyers don’t have to waste hours digging through irrelevant files. It can also help lawyers get a clear picture of a noisy dataset by automatically summarizing the contents of ESI, detecting duplicate or near duplicate ESI, and visualizing data harvested from ESI to unlock insights that might not have been visible to the naked eye.
Automate document processes
AI technology like robotic process automation (RPA) solutions and intelligent document processing (IDP) software have already taken the reins on general back office document processes like invoice processing and tracking expenses. These solutions can read, understand, and discern the difference between the documents that you feed it. For example, it can classify an invoice based on the contents of the document, identify and extract key information (like the invoice number and total), and enter that information into the accounting system. It can even match the invoice against the purchase order and make the payment, or alert someone if something is amiss.
But now we are seeing AI used to handle some lawyerly document tasks. For example, legal AI document automation solutions can help lawyers save time when collecting information from clients and generating legal documents like contracts, non-disclosure agreements, wills, and trusts. AI knows which questions to ask and which documents to collect from clients based on the services the client is requesting, and can use that data to craft the requisite documents to fulfill that request. AI can then review this paperwork for missing information and identify contradictions, mistakes, problematic language, and spelling errors, so little mistakes don’t snowball into big problems.
Legal assistants are going to take on a range of vital yet time-consuming and error-prone tasks, such as conducting legal research and reviewing contracts. An AI legal assistant can search a number of vast legal databases and “read up” on similar cases and relevant laws, collate essential data and summarize it, and provide the lawyer with its own insights. Another example of how AI legal assistants can be used is for contract review processes. Normally, lawyers would have to compare the content of the contract with the client’s objectives and ensure that the terms of the contract do not violate any laws. AI assistants can check to see if any changes have been made to a contract, detect unusual clauses and flag them for review, and ensure the contract conforms to previous templates.
Marketing, social media, and client care
Natural language processing (NLP) solutions like ChatGPT are going to make it easy for lawyers to create effective and appealing marketing materials that will reach more prospective clients. Instead of taking an hour out of their day to write a blog or a social media post, lawyers will ask NLP platforms to generate blogs and posts based on specific topics. They can even have them write the blog in a style that maximizes the blog’s SEO score — allowing lawyers to reach even more people than they did before.
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can also help lawyers provide on-demand client care 24/7, help clients get answers to common legal questions and schedule appointments with lawyers more quickly and efficiently.
The benefits of AI in the legal industry
Ultimately, AI in the legal industry can help this vertical evolve. It will save enormous amounts of time and money, and create a more equitable and efficient legal system. What used to take hundreds or thousands of hours can be done in minutes. If AI helps lawyers reduce the amount of time it takes to handle your matters, it can cut your legal bills substantially. If you’re a business owner, these savings can be reinvested into growing your business. But more importantly, the lower cost of legal representation ensures that more Americans can afford representation (researchers found that in roughly 75% of all civil cases, one party doesn’t have a lawyer). The time saved on the back of AI means cases can be resolved faster, too. Courts can increase their daily caseload, and law firms can take on more clients. In other words, AI creates more profits in the private sector, reduces our collective tax burden (by way of optimizing a slow and expensive system) but it also helps settle disputes and turn the wheels of justice faster.
is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.