Why are law firms ignoring Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a buzzword for a couple of years now. However, the benefits of using this technology have historically been something for firms to “think about in the future” or include in some sort of “roadmap”. Nasstar sponsored some research into AI adoption in 2018 with the LPM Legal IT Landscapes publication. It revealed that 73% of law firms were not using artificial intelligence in any area of their business.

Artificial Intelligence In Law Firms

[Figure 1. Graphic from LPM.]

However, there is much value to be derived from artificial intelligence platforms for law firms right now. So we thought we would accelerate the understanding of AI in general by pointing the way to solutions that are available to your law firm today.

When we think about artificial intelligence, a common 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’. These scare us into thinking AI is a bad thing.

Working with the technology not against it

But in many industries, including legal, artificial intelligence should be viewed in a more positive light by understanding the benefits it can provide. There is an 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. It’s something that does not benefit from the innate skill of the fee earner. Therefore, those duties are best left to systems in the future. The skill of the lawyer being focused on interpreting the output and forming complex strategic decisions to best serve their clients.

What do the ‘projections’ say?

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 work and what can we do to ensure we’re prepared for it?

Automation

In legal practices up and down the country, lawyers and paralegals are swamped with conducting due diligence. Discovering background information on behalf of their clients.  Often a boring and tedious task. However, the load that could easily be lightened by using AI. Using 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 lawyers so they can work on the more human elements of their job. Such as client relationship building. Analysing the resultant research. Applying legal statutes and precedents to the data that AI has uncovered.

There is automation potential everywhere in a law firm. One quick example is calendar booking and call forwarding. The biggest outsourced phone assistant provider Moneypenny are investing heavily into the AI solution space. They are utilising the IBM Watson platform. I would highly recommend visiting the Moneypenny head office at Wrexham and seeing their AI platform.

Analysis

AI capabilities are now so advanced that their analytics skills are often much better than humans. 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 have had plenty of success in this area and are a good starting point for any firm looking to investigate this type of technology.

Data

When it comes to data, AI really is king. Especially when it comes to mining large volumes of it – a frequent occurrence in the legal sector. Natural language processing and machine learning are highly applicable when it comes to data management and analysis. Both offer 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. This 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 is something you can leverage immediately.

A lost opportunity

By introducing artificial intelligence into your legal practice NOW 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 on cognitive tasks. These are market differentiators and help to retain 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.

Andy Lewis, Nasstar

Nasstar is an established and well-regarded IT services provider to the legal sector. With more than a decade’s worth of experience supporting barristers, solicitors and legal professionals with their IT needs. Our legal team has worked with a large number of law firms and chambers to deliver cloud-based IT solutions that are specifically tailored to the legal sector.

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