Plenty of media attention has been devoted to robots replacing lawyers. Conversely, some industry players claim that artificial intelligence (AI) is simply a buzzword used to sell software to law firms. "Are many AI-badged products just rule-based decision-making tools?" asks Alex Smith, platform innovation lead at LexisNexis UK. "What counts as AI?" AI in business has moved beyond process automation to include natural language processing and machine-learning, whereby computers are trained to interpret information and adjust their processes to user feedback. Rather than searching for keywords or strings of words, the software reads and understands information, so its findings and recommendations are based on contextual elements. Gerard Frith, chief executive of AI consultancy Matter, explains how AI adds value by modelling and reapplying expert knowledge in a fast, scalable way.
A career in law and extremely long hours tend to go hand in hand. Partly of course it's about proving your commitment, but being a lawyer also involves an awful lot of grunt work - spending hours and hours looking through past case law to help your firm determine how to fight a current case. It's this time consuming, labour intensive research aspect of the legal system that Andrew Arruda, co-founder and chief executive of tech start-up Ross Intelligence, believes its invention can address. The AI (or artificial intelligence) legal research system allows lawyers to type in a question - much in the same way they'd ask a colleague - and bring up relevant examples of what has happened in previous US legal cases, essentially at the touch of a button. "Lawyers may know the law and where it stands on a particular issue today but many cases come out and it can change that so they're always looking into the past to build the future.
How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession The future of the legal profession began 20 years ago. The technology boom was just beginning with the emergence of email and personal computers. Jay Leib was working for Record Technologies Inc. as director of software sales and training in 1999, and the company was scanning documents into databases for clients. At one point the company printed and scanned legal documents related to a lawsuit with Microsoft. Leib thought that was inefficient, a waste of time and paper. So he and his business partner, Dan Roth, decided to create a program that would help lawyers manage electronic documents for litigation. Their idea led them to purchase an e-discovery application. By 2000, Leib and his partner launched their own creation, Discovery Cracker. "We saw a gap in the marketplace," Leib says. Lawyers need tools to keep up with it." Instead of wading through piles of paper, lawyers now deal with terabytes of data and hundreds of thousands of documents. E-discovery, legal research and document review are more sophisticated due to the abundance of data. So while working as chief strategy officer at kCura in Chicago, Leib saw a need again in the market. "For years, lawyers have been stuck with antiquated tools that focus primarily … on Boolean search. Better tools are needed to truly understand data." "What is the future of the industry? We thought about it," he says. "There were whistleblowers in their companies who knew what was going on, and the unstructured data contained the stories. Companies could detect potential problems early on, provide alternatives to counsel and C-suite, and understand their exposure. It would prevent unnecessary legal spend and mitigate risk, thus protecting the company's brand and shareholder value." In 2013, he and Roth, a professor and head of the cognitive computing group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, created NexLP, a company using artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify trends. A REVOLUTION BEGINS Artificial intelligence is changing the way lawyers think, the way they do business and the way they interact with clients. Artificial intelligence is more than legal technology.
We may need to start rewriting our precious lawyer jokes -- smart, time-saving computers are quickly elevating the profession. Instead of hiring expensive assistants to pore over cases and sort through tickets, law firms are increasingly turning toward artificially-intelligent machines to do the expensive menial jobs instead. They are creating a future in which a costly and inefficient legal system actually becomes an attractive way for the average citizen to protect his or her civil liberties. Andrew Arruda, the CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, tells Tech Insider that "AI-enabled software is going to become very much the status quo and very normal" in the coming decade. Arruda's company recently deployed the ROSS software at a handful of law firms throughout the US.
One of the country's biggest law firms has become the first to publicly announce that it has "hired" a robot lawyer to assist with bankruptcy cases. The robot, called ROSS, has been marketed as "the world's first artificially intelligent attorney." ROSS has joined the ranks of law firm BakerHostetler, which employs about 50 human lawyers just in its bankruptcy practice. The AI machine, powered by IBM's Watson technology, will serve as a legal researcher for the firm. It will be responsible for sifting through thousands of legal documents to bolster the firm's cases.