The legal world is changing and solo and small law firms are feeling the pressure. Current client expectations, difficulty traversing new technology and an increasingly competitive market are some of the new challenges facing these lawyers. Solo and small law firms are working harder and longer, but are not increasing their profitability. And on the client side, the majority of people dealing with a legal issue are left to represent themselves in court because legal representation is cost prohibitive.
Artificial Intelligence can offer a much needed part of the solution to these problems. Lawyers have always purposed technology to optimize standards of operation. Forty years ago law firms did all their word processing via typewriter. Then came the arrival of the personal computer and law offices were able to consolidate records electronically and word process. Around the same time, voicemail became popular and enabled lawyers to receive messages even when they weren’t there to answer the phone. With the advent of the internet, lawyers could communicate digitally and have an online presence.
Fast forward to 2017, and artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming integral to running a successful law practice. What makes AI prodigious is its potential to shift the paradigm in how legal work is done. What I mean here is, AI can offer you the cutting edge tools you need to optimize your law office in the 21st century. AI is not something to fear but a field to learn more about and to sensibly adopt into your law practice. The technology is here to augment the invaluable human resources, not replace it.
A quick google search and you can find a useful definition of artificial intelligence, “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.” The broad field of AI has many branches that focus on specific technologies such as machine learning – the ability for software to automatically learn from experience and increase its accuracy in its outcomes, and natural language processing (NLP) – software that analyzes, understands, and derives meaning from human language.
Current examples of AI at work in law include: contract analysis, due diligence review, legal research, document drafting, predicting case outcomes, conversational agents, triage, and many more.
Think of AI as a tool. AI applications are not specific to any one practice. The technology makes mining documents in discovery, answering routine questions, drafting contracts, qualifying potential clients, analyzing data to predict case outcomes, much faster, more accurate, and cheaper.
Increasing automation promises to increase efficiency, boost productivity, and help you provide greater value to your clients at lower costs. AI-enabled systems allow you to save time on tedious work so you have more time to engage in the more meaningful practice of law, stuff that the computer can’t do so well.
Today’s legal consumers are different. They have different habits when it comes to searching for and evaluating legal options. Clients want a more transparent, efficient, and affordable legal system. AI will help you improve your firms’ operational systems and methods of delivery of legal services, so you can build the law firm of your clients’ dreams.