Artificial Lawyer caught up with Cian O'Sullivan, founder of Beagle, the automated contract analysis system that is just celebrating a year and a half of operations and landing VW as a client. We discussed how Beagle came about, why maybe sometimes it's better not to talk to lawyers about AI and how come the company has one of the world's largest auto companies as a client, and then some. Cian O'Sullivan's web camera is not working when Artificial Lawyer calls for a video conference and so is treated to a picture of a soccer pitch in Colombia that the legal tech company founder took on his travels. The international reference makes sense once you start to talk to O'Sullivan. The Canadian travels a lot.
Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley's next victim. But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of A.I. in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process. In other words, like it or not, a robot is not about to replace your lawyer. "There is this popular view that if you can automate one piece of the work, the rest of the job is toast," said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An artificial intelligence technique called natural language processing has proved useful in scanning and predicting what documents will be relevant to a case, for example.
Legal technology, commonly known as LegalTech, refers to software that enable lawyers to do their jobs more efficiently and cost-effectively. Though very much an emerging sector, LegalTech already comprises a $16 billion market in the U.S and is growing. Undoubtedly the biggest change in this burgeoning market --taking lawyers by storm--is the rapid rise of artificial intelligence technologies. Here we look at how AI is transforming the everyday practice of law, changing the profession and skills required by lawyers. More than 40 companies are offering solutions--from removing arduous contract reviews, to eDiscovery, or even providing intelligence on where best to try a case.
The term "artificial intelligence" conjures different meanings depending upon one's perspective. If you are Elon Musk of Tesla fame, you view artificial intelligence in apocalyptical terms, as something that could lead to "a fleet of artificial intelligence-enhanced robots capable of destroying mankind." While we hope it will not be lethal, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the legal services industry poses its own challenges. Law firms accustomed to using lawyers to perform certain tasks are now encountering technology, including artificial intelligence, that can perform tasks in seconds or minutes rather than the hours spent by a human counterpart. Although there are a growing number of firms using alternative fee arrangements, the majority of law firms continue to rely upon the billable hour as the source of their revenues.