THE IMPACT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) ON THE FUTURE OF LEGAL PRACTICE
The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the legal profession is a topic of much discussion and speculation. As technology continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly clear that AI has the potential to revolutionize the way legal services are provided. From automating tasks to providing more personalized and efficient services, the future of AI in legal practice is both exciting and challenging.
Although the legal services industry is one of the largest in the world, it remains under-digitized. The field of law is tradition-bound and notoriously slow to adopt new technologies and tools. However, the narrative is beginning to change with the emergence of AI, as AI is beginning to make its footprint on the practice of law in significant ways.
What is AI?
Many may be wondering what the term “AI” actually means, the term AI can be a bit misleading. AI refers to a machine taught to perform one or more human tasks. It is the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. It can be described as an intelligent machine capable of thinking, understanding, and acting on its own, as well as the ability to replicate certain human behavior. As a result, Artificial Intelligence is a system that has the capability and ability to solve problems that we humans would normally solve using our natural intelligence.
IMPACTOF AI ON LEGAL PRACTICE
AI will alter the trend of legal practice, providing better and faster results. AI is used in different service niches of law. AI has been most instrumental in assisting lawyers in the following:
Contract Review & Analytics
Contracts are the lifeblood of the economy, without them, no commercial and business transactions can take place effectively. Nonetheless, the process of concluding a contract is energy and time-consuming. Human mistake is common, no surprise given that attention to minutiae is essential and the fact that some contracts can be thousands of pages long.
However, AI systems can automatically ingest proposed contracts, analyze them in full using natural language processing (NLP) technology, and determine which portions of the contract are acceptable and which are ambiguous.
Legal research is an area where AI is revolutionary and instrumental. Legal research used to be a labor and capital-intensive process, with law students and firm associates searching case law volumes for relevant precedent. With the introduction of AI, this procedure has gone digital, and lawyers increasingly undertake research using computer applications such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, and our Nigerian Hero Law Pavilion.
AI-powered legal research software allows legal professionals to search large databases of regulations, statutes, practice areas, jurisdictions, and case laws at a glance on a subject. With legal research software, lawyers can gather data and help them understand and make use of precedents.
Conducting due diligence often requires legal professionals to review a large number of documents and information. Artificial Intelligence tools are used to perform due diligence and uncover background information.
AI can help legal professionals review documents quicker and more efficiently, pulling specific keywords and documents required for due diligence, like documents containing a specific clause. AI due diligence software can also spot variations or changes in documents.
Litigation procedure relies heavily on case law and precedents, AI being aware of this helps lawyers anticipate the outcomes of pending cases, using relevant precedent and the facts of the case as inputs. AI can be used to analyze data and predict the outcome of legal disputes, allowing legal professionals to make more informed decisions. This can lead to faster and more efficient resolution of disputes, which will benefit both parties involved. Additionally, AI-powered systems can be used to identify patterns and trends in legal disputes, which can help legal professionals to prevent and resolve disputes more effectively in the future.
Going paperless is the new trend, AI-driven document management stores and organizes legal files, including contracts, case files, notes, emails, etc. This method of storing and organizing digital files makes documents a lot easier to find. Also, document management software can connect to other systems like Microsoft Office to easily share files with others.
A few of the notable AI tools that have gained mass popularity in Nigeria and abroad include, LawPavillion, Next Counsel, Definely Draft, TIMI-LITE, Westlaw Edge’s Quick Check, Lexis+ Brief Analysis and IBM Watson.
Thefuture of AI in legal practice is both exciting and challenging. AI has thepotential to revolutionize the way legal services are provided, making themmore efficient, accessible, and affordable. However, it also has the potentialto disrupt the legal industry, with regards to job loss caused by redundancyand the need for legal professionals to adapt and retrain for new roles. It isimportant for legal professionals to stay informed about the latestdevelopments in AI and develop new skills that will ensure that the legalindustry is able to fully leverage the benefits of this technology while minimizingrisks.