Should Lawyers Be Worried About AI?

Posted by Cian on Jan 19, 2016 11:58:37 AM


Artificial intelligence (AI) is a loose term for the augmentation and automation of tasks. When a task is more than a yes-or-no question– and you can get a computer to answer it–  you arguably have an artificially intelligent system. 


As a fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, and as the founder and CEO of a legal tech company that uses machine learning, lawyers frequently ask my opinion on whether or not the legal industry should adopt the use of AI systems.

Lawyers need not fear technology assisted document review, they should embrace it. Lawyers face strong pressures to reduce fees and time, and to do more with less. AI helps them address these client demands.


Today, most lawyers recognize e-discovery as an area where automation is used.  Rules can be set to comb through digital storage files to find hidden gems.  And there is now e-diligence, where companies use AI to parse large numbers of documents as part of a diligence process, looking for those nasty little bits.  We even use automated source code review.


All of the aforementioned were traditionally done in manual form, in a case room or deal room, an army of 1st to 4th year associates and/or paralegals. Times have changed—there is a need for AI based technology, because the volume of information is unmanageable in a manual form. With AI you can now close a deal in weeks that would normally take months.  Thank you.


Automated research and analysis; intellectual property automation; contract analysis, and litigation outcome prediction are just a few examples of AI technology that are already functioning in the legal industry. Each of these tools exemplifies mechanical learning in action– and should be reassurance to those lawyers who are gingerly approaching the subject of legal AI. Primarily, these tools help take away knowledge work and reduce over-lawyering  (the concept of lawyers performing and charging for services that are not part of their core competency,) while accelerating the process of closing a contract.


Automation and augmentation exists everywhere– from air traffic control, to stock markets, to medical tests– and mistakes do happen.  That being said, in each of these systems, there is professional oversight to ensure a careful balance between automated reliance, and personalized support. 


The traditional role of the lawyer is changing in accordance with the tools available for researching and administering justice– and to the lawyers who ask me about automation, I encourage them to embrace this change. Artificial intelligence systems will continue to benefit lawyers, and firms who spend less time on automatable tasks can find more time to reinvest in their clients


Beagle uses artificial intelligence to read contracts and highlight the key information. This is the type of AI tool that lawyers should embrace. Try for yourself with a free 7 day trial.

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Topics: Legaltech, #Lawyers, Artificial Intelligence


Cian is a seasoned contract negotiator, Fellow of Stanford Law's CodeX, and the Top Dog and Founder of Beagle Inc. Beagle Inc. uses artificial intelligence to read contracts automatically, and provides a feature rich review tool set.