Having already made significant progress across industries like finance and healthcare, I believe artificial intelligence (AI) is naturally placed to radically transform the legal sector. Indeed, the pace of technological change in the last decade means that businesses are constantly exploring new AI-driven solutions to help them gain a competitive advantage and survive in the ever-changing marketplace. Legal organisations are no exception.

The legal sector has already shown a growing interest in the technology – a recent study of London firms by CBRE revealed that almost half (48%) are already using AI. But notorious for being set in its ways, the global uptake of AI within this sector has been slow when compared to other professional industries. Across the pond in the US, a survey of senior executives by RELX Group placed the legal industry in last place when it came to the adoption of AI and machine learning (ML) technologies.

To ensure that the industry is positioned to fully benefit from the advantages of AI, we must focus on spreading awareness about the practical benefits of the various toolsets that exist. That’s why at Fountech, we recently launched a new legal white paper to help law firms get to grips with AI, and I’ve outlined a few insights from this paper below.

Observing the proliferation of AI

Although AI may seem like a 21st century trend, it may surprise you to know that by no means is it a new industry. In fact, the concept was debuted over 60 years ago in 1956 at a conference at Dartmouth University.

Yet it has only been in the last decade that we have seen a significant proliferation of AI technology in both professional and social environments. When it comes to the business space, Gartner recently revealed that enterprise use of AI grew 270% over the past four years, with 37% of organisations having implemented AI in some form. Whether this comes down to increasing accessibility or a deeper understanding of the technology, this trend will no doubt continue for many years to come. 

But what does the exponential rise of AI mean for the legal sector? AI has undoubtedly gained a foothold in this space, but the slow start compared to many other industries suggests that a knowledge gap still remains (as the US insight demonstrates). So, to encourage law firms to utilise AI to its full potential, here are a few simple ways to employ AI tools for day-to-day tasks.

Top AI tools legal firms can employ within their business

The legal sector might be relatively new to AI, but that does not mean there aren’t already a plethora of helpful solutions on the market that can aid legal professionals and streamline business practices.

Summarisation

Without a doubt, the process of researching past cases and legal documents for guidance represents one of the biggest drains on a legal professionals’ precious time. AI solutions can be used in this instance to summarise key points found in large bodies of legal text; researchers can then read the summaries of these documents to determine whether they are useful and if they warrant further research. 

Human feedback plays a central role here to ensure that the toolset delivers the highest quality results. For instance, should the AI miss any key points, human experts would be able to highlight them and teach the AI what kind of information it should be prioritising. Over time – thanks to ML capabilities – the AI would then be able to determine the key points to summarise based on the document’s category. For instance, if a researcher comes across a sales contract, it might offer a short summary of payment terms.

Review

In a similar vein, when it comes to determining legal precedents and preparing for upcoming cases, lawyers also endure the laborious responsibility of classifying documents and locating comparable cases. Thankfully, this routine task can now largely be delegated to AI.

Utilising previously classified documents, researchers can provide new data to the AI and have it return documents of a similar nature. Uploaded documents are also automatically categorised, making them significantly easier to locate in the future. 

For example, a lawyer drafting an employment contract might want to seek direction from past cases. The AI can pull up the most similar employee contracts from the digital library for comparison to help draft this document. What’s more, when presenting similar cases, the AI will also highlight differences between the documents to ensure that all of the necessary content is included.

Advisory

AI tools are also on hand to offer risk analysis. Though its predictive capabilities, AI-fuelled software solutions can recognise patterns across previous cases and collate insights before producing a risk analysis for potential future cases.

An analysis can indicate the probability of a case being successful, and even provide justified reasons for its anticipated unsuccessful outcome. As part of this, the AI will predict likely future arguments and decisions that a case could incur; these are largely based on a case’s individual circumstances, and how cases with similar circumstances performed in the past.

What this means is that AI can predict when cases might be dismissed (such as when a lack of evidence or the prior history of the defendant are liable to inhibit a successful outcome), saving both the lawyer and client unnecessary time and costs.

Embracing the full potential of AI

Although still in the initial stages of wider adoption, forward-thinking organisations have already demonstrated the advantages that AI can bring. And based on the examples listed above, it is clear in my eyes that AI has the potential to radically transform the legal sector as a whole. To get to this stage, however, what we need to do is spread awareness and demonstrate in practical terms how legal firms are geared to benefit from AI.

Those working in the legal services are encouraged not to view AI as a threat to their business, or something out of reach, but instead as a valuable supplement that is both accessible and affordable. To learn more about the tailored AI solutions available to your organisation, be sure to get in touch with Fountech to receive a personal copy of our legal white paper.

Nikolas Kairinos is the CEO and Founder, Fountech.ai