We just hosted a Clubhouse chat about the use of Artificial Intelligence in the legal industry. We were asked: will AI one day replace all lawyers? I want to summarize the points we discussed and offer some insight here.
Where AI Excels
In our opinion, there are certain tasks at which AI can significantly outperform humans.
AI has a tremendous capacity to gather a large amount of data and analyze them based on certain predefined criteria. This technology can tap into databases accurately and efficiently with very little room for error at a tremendous speed. AI does not forget, does not make human errors in mislabeling such data, and does not get tired. When the data is structured, the ability of AI to gather, retain and analyze such data far exceeds human capabilities.
Pre-Defined, Repeatable Tasks
AI can perform predefined tasks that are simple and repeatable without deviation and errors. If we can define the tasks clearly for the AI (e.g. follow the lane and drive, and stop when you see an obstacle), then AI will perform per instruction without any deviation or mistakes. Similar to the last point, AI will make no mistake within the pre-defined parameters. AI does not get bored or mind the tediousness of the tasks.
Related to the last point, AI is excellent in creating standardized processes and automation. Once you teach it the entire workflow and set up the end-to-end process, AI will follow through and ensure the process is performed with consistency and automation.
Where AI Struggles
While all of this is great, at this stage, AI cannot perform certain tasks that are complex and need to weigh the pros and cons of various options and make a conscientious choice. It cannot think outside the box, create a strategy, decide on trade-offs, and weigh complex factors to make a “call”. It’s also not great at being creative and inventing something that does not exist yet. Finally, AI of course cannot replace humans in terms of empathy and emotion, and it cannot communicate like a true human being.
Where Can We Use AI in the Legal Industry?
We’ve discussed the general trends in legal tech before, but what are the best use cases for AI specifically in the legal industry?
Search (Legal Research, E-discovery, Due Diligence, Platforms for Finding a Lawyer)
AI can retain and categorize a large amount of legal data, making legal search simple and easy. Ross Intelligence built an excellent research platform where you can search all case law by typing in a few simple search phrases or sentences. Too bad it closed due to a lawsuit with Thomson Reuters. Another use case in this area of search is E-discovery, pioneered by companies such as Onna and Disco. We have yet to see any leading platforms capable of matching clients with different types of lawyers using AI. Sleegal hopes to be the pioneer in this area.
Process Automation (CLM, Case Management, Complaint Filing)
Any young lawyer who has worked at big law firms knows how tedious legal work can be. There are so many processes; saving, naming, and searching for contracts, and exchanging redlines with opposing counsel to name a few. Many of these processes can now be automated using AI.
Ironclad, along with other notable vendors (e.g. Linksquares), is an excellent Contract Lifecycle Management platform. Similarly, for litigation, several case management software solutions use AI, such as Clio and Litify. Additionally, AI is excellent at filing certain forms following predefined, simple steps. DonotPay is the pioneer in this area. For simple notarization, Notarize is also very good and efficient.
Simple Form Generation and Drafting (Form Contracts, Wills & Trusts)
To our point about simple and repeatable tasks, if you only need to draft a simple contract that can be repeated from previous forms, then AI is an excellent way to go about it. For example, ContractpodAi and LawGeex attempt to use AI to help lawyers draft contracts. However, if the contract becomes complex, AI may or may not be able to draft it effectively. See our point below. Similarly, there are certain types of legal documents that tend to follow a predefined form, such as wills and trust. Farewill is a good example of this use case.
What Can AI Not Replace Yet in the Legal Industry?
To our point above, AI is less effective in areas where the issues are complex and one needs to weigh multiple factors and make trade-offs. Currently, AI is not great at drafting complex contracts where there are multiple factors at play and one needs to make trade-offs and negotiate with the counterparty. Similarly, because of the complexity and multi-factor nature of legal contracts, it will be extremely difficult for AI to come up with strategies to maximize the clients’ benefits and achieve their overall goals, as it will be almost impossible to quantify and set parameters for all this and teach the AI how to fully consider and evaluate all of this.
Ultimately AI is a machine. It cannot replace a human lawyer’s capacity to listen emphatically to clients and provide them with human communication that helps them understand their issues and assure them that they are in good hands.
The bottom line: the legal industry needs to adopt AI to replace human lawyers in areas where the tasks are data-heavy, repeatable, and automatable. However, we still need human lawyers for complex contractual and litigation issues, strategy and creativity, and empathic, communicative counseling that all of us want and need.
Check out how we’re using AI to effectively connect lawyers with clients: https://www.sleegal.com