The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Legal
When you hear about artificial intelligence in law you may think about Hugo Weaving in his Agent Smith attire in a courtroom going “illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose”. While that would be really cool, we are not quite there yet. But that is not to say that this most unholy union between lawyers and corporates isn’t already underway. While the idea of lawyers and corporates working for each other is acceptable, most normal people would agree that the idea of them working with each other is a concept of fire and brimstone proportions.
Yet again here we are, IT functioning with legal services in a well-established industry. With more than two decades of coexistence, the IT-legal system is now on the verge of getting into the AI era. Much like its presence in other fields, Artificial Intelligence’s application in legal is largely confined to data. So, what could lawyers possibly do with an AI system at their disposal?
Natural Language Processing in Legal
Contrary to what science fiction may suggest and the progress being made in other fields, AI in law at the moment has very few uses and where we stand right now that seems to be its greatest extent. One of the biggest uses of AI is in natural language processing. This is a process where the AI does an interpretation of the human language in its natural form and processes it to derive results. In a legal set up the Natural Language processing is used for sorting through large amounts of legal documents and detecting any anomalies in them or finding particular parts within documents.
The data thus acquired could be used to create a shortlist based on various criteria or even highlight points that could be crucial to the legal data. The chances of AI actually participating in the litigation process as it progresses could very well be confined to this line. In the future, it is possible that using natural language processing AI could sort through evidence or testimonies and analyze them to verify their validity and so on.
Natural Language Processing could further be leveraged to analyze past cases and crucial excerpts to study potential loopholes that may have got missed in all the heat of a courtroom drama. It is also possible that judges could use such data in real time during proceedings. A more far-fetched possibility for using AI would be as a real-time lie detector using facial and tone recognition which AI controlled camera/microphone systems are quite capable of today. However, the use of such devices and methods at the moment are against the legislative system of most countries.
AI as a Legal Assisting Tool
A vaguely conceived application of AI in legal is as an online legal assistant for public use. An AI controlled application could be used as a legal advisory tool to offer basic information on how to proceed with their particular case and whom to approach based on the specific data you might provide. These are prospects that could be added to make AI more comprehensive for use in the legal sector. Furthermore, the language processing bit of AI could be leveraged by lawyers themselves to diversify their practice into various aspects of the law. There are currently efforts being made to apply AI in such a capacity.
With the volume of work that law firms, both small and large go through, time and resource management is not an easy task. Managing documents is a task that is on a completely different level. This is an area where AI systems could be applied to its fullest extent. There are already many AI systems in place that manage the schedule of employees, manage the logistics of various resources, manage maintenance services and so on. For law firms, this could be optimized to function with the lawyers’ various requirements and functioning patterns. AI systems could schedule meetings, keep track of court dates, keep track of all the documentation and even keep updates on the proceedings of various cases. From this perspective, there are quite a few possibilities that could work out well for the legal sector.
When the topic of AI comes up amongst lawyers the first thing that comes to their mind is the possibility of a machine takeover of their business. On one hand, their assumption cannot be dismissed as baseless because this has been happening in several verticals in recent years. However, on the other, many in the legal system overestimate the potential of AI in their sector.
Experts believe that short of a sentient being not unlike us arriving from a faraway planet, the amount of AI proliferation in the legal sector is only around 5%. That percentage would almost completely be comprised of data related jobs. So it is highly unlikely that lawyers might lose their jobs. But, a general skepticism and fear of what the use of AI in law could bring about have created great obstacles for AI developers who intend to craft the technology for legal. However, there is support as well from many firms to develop the technologies that are currently possible and are being used to good effect. Given the divided mindset within the industry, the progress of AI in legal would be a slow process and irrespective of the speed it is something that will surely bring about some vital changes in the sector.