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How will AI Shape the Future of the Legal Services Industry

In this special guest feature, Stewart Dunlop, a content manager working with LegalZoom, highlights the fact that artificial intelligence has been predicted to be of value to many different industries, and perhaps one of the most feasible applications will be within legal services. This is due to several factors, which will be explained further in the article, but perhaps the most important is the fact that one of AI’s biggest strengths is data collection and analysis. Stewart is a full-time content writer and part-time footballer and reader.

Artificial intelligence has been predicted to be of value to many different industries, and perhaps one of the most feasible applications will be within legal services. This is due to several factors, which we will explain further in the article, but perhaps the most important is the fact that one of AI’s biggest strengths is data collection and analysis.

As an example, paralegals and legal assistants are some of the most in-demand careers related to the legal services industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects.”

A paralegals responsibility is conducting in-depth research on cases to provide advice to a lawyer on how to proceed. This involves conducting initial client interviews to advise a lawyer whether a case is worth taking on, finding previous court cases with similar facts that may set precedent for the case at hand, and compiling relevant laws or other data that may be pertinent to a case. Paralegals and legal assistants also spend a considerable amount of time drafting legal documents, such as non-disclosure agreements.

The one thing all of these responsibilities have in common is data collection and analysis. Which as we established, is one of the main core strengths of artificial intelligence. Imagine an artificial intelligence trained to pore through thousands of court documents and historical case files, searching for precedence and applicable laws in a matter of minutes. Or an AI that can analyze people’s personality traits, which would be incredibly useful during the voir doir phase of a trial, jury selection, and analysis. In fact, one company has already released such an AI-powered app, which is able to rapidly analyze potential jurors by crunching through Big Data, including social media posts.

An AI-driven App that Can Analyze Juror’s Personality Types

Former IBM-staffer, Basit Mustafa, explained the functionality of the app, making it sound like an extremely powerful tool for determining whether or not a potential juror will have any personal bias towards your case.

‘You just click on the name of a juror and you see the profile,’ Mustafa explains. ‘This shows certain risk factors, for example, have they made political donations to certain causes (which are public in the US) and how does that impact their bias in your case?’

The AI begins by scouring through basic data including age, education, work history, and then dives into a potential juror’s social media history (Twitter, Facebook, etc) to search for any signs of political bias, or sentiments towards particular causes and issues. The end result is a layout diagram of the entire jury, each person tagged with relevant key information about their personality.

This might sound a bit scary, and should be considered in topics such as data security and privacy, but ultimately this kind of AI does not uncover anything that isn’t already publicly available information.

While this sounds like an incredibly powerful tool that could give lawyers an “unfair advantage” during the jury selection process, remember that lawyers (and their legal assistants) have been profiling jurors for as long as anyone can remember. AI tools like this will not be doing anything humans aren’t already able to perform, the only difference is that AI will perform these duties much faster.

How AI Will Take Over the Legal Assistance Industry

That leaves us with the question of whether or not AI will disrupt job availability in the legal services industry. This is, in fact, a very real possibility, just like any other industry where AI can outperform humans. Lawyers have already been using AI to more efficiently perform due diligence, conduct researching duties, and draft documents and bill for hours.

Remember that law firms, depending on the size of the firm and scope of the case, may employ huge legal research terms, which costs a lot of money. Forbes predicts that AI will most certainly eliminate most humans from the paralegal industry, and may even eliminate human lawyers and judges.

WillRobotsTakeMyJobs, a website that tracks the computerization of various industries, predicts a 94% chance that AI will completely dominate the paralegal and legal assistant industry within a number of years.

Tom Girardi, renowned civil litigator and real-life inspiration for the film Erin Brockovich, went so far as to say that “It may even be considered legal malpractice not to use AI one day […] It would be analogous to a lawyer in the late twentieth century still doing everything by hand when this person could use a computer.”

However, while AI has a massive potential to disrupt employment availability in the legal industry, it may have massive benefits for the public at large. Because the current legal system relies on armies of paralegal and research terms, law firms charge exorbitant rates to cover their costs. And in the public defender industry, investigators have very limited time to provide service. With AI, the public will be able to receive better legal advice and representation across the entire board.

Conclusion

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean AI will be able to completely replace all methods of collecting information. There are some instances where depositions and cross-examinations are more useful for gathering facts. Still, there is no doubt that AI has the potential, and most probably will, massively shake up the entire legal services industry.

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Comments

  1. Really good article thanks for sharing

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