Is AI ready for the Legal Industry?

Posted by Gaby Isturiz on Oct 10, 2018 6:00:00 AM


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Before you find yourself glamoured by AI, read this.

These days, it can seem like we are on the fast track to a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is behind all of the technology that we rely on to assist with our day-to-day needs. What’s the weather like outside? Ask Alexa. Need directions? Call on Siri. Need to purchase something? Amazon’s machine algorithms are built to give their best suggestions based on what they assume you are searching for.

Looking beyond our consumer-based interactions that we engage in as individuals, AI is creeping into our professional lives as well. For example, you might reach out to a company through their website and interact with a chat bot. When responding to emails, you might find that it is suddenly much quicker to manage because your email client is able to suggest the appropriate phrase to use in your response. Or, if you are a bit behind in managing that inbox, you might receive a reminder to send a reply to those who are due to hear from you. Within the legal industry, AI could come to the aid of legal assistants in conducting due diligence or attorneys looking to help their clients predict the likelihood of a positive outcome. These developments are exciting - especially when they allow us to simplify, expedite or eliminate unexciting or painful tasks. But, are we ready?

In this Forbes piece, best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data, Bernard Marr, said “Now is the time for all law firms to commit to becoming AI-ready by embracing a growth mindset, set aside the fear of failure and begin to develop internal AI practices. While I certainly agree that law firms should focus on preparing their technology environments for what is to come, making decisions based on tomorrow’s needs for growth, scalability and efficiency, I think it is important to make the point that this doesn’t only apply to AI - and AI is not always the answer.

You see, what I’m trying to say is that AI is exciting, but we have to be careful not to get so wrapped up in the excitement of AI that we fail to distinguish between AI that actually brings about tangible and helpful changes, and those that are simply AI for the sake of AI.

According to Gartner, 46% of CIOs plan to implement AI in the “near term.” However, we need to be careful that any technology that we are implementing is truly positioned to deliver on its promises. In a recent article on enterprise adoption of AI, Daniela Fagella stated, “The short story is that AI is being hyped, and that its potential in business is still, for the most part, experimental. Though there is a genuine sentiment that AI will transform industries, the actual applications and projects that will deliver that value is mostly unknown, and business leaders need to think strategically about where AI may – or may not – make a difference for their company.” That same Gartner study mentioned above, also stated that 85% of AI projects through 2022 will “deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias in data, algorithms, or the teams responsible for managing them.

The point here is to understand what the problems are that we are trying to solve and how technology can make outcomes more accurate and efficient in our industry. AI does have its promise in terms of providing game-changing solutions to the enterprise and legal markets - but in many cases, it’s not there yet. Law firms must do their due diligence in terms of how the proposed technology will realistically impact their organization and conduct their roll-out accordingly.

Three Questions to Ask Before Implementing an AI-Based Solution

  1. What is the function that this is bringing to my organization today?
  2. What proof exists that this solution can deliver on its claims?
  3. How are we going to measure the outcome in terms of accuracy and efficiency?

When it comes to attorneys and their relationship with technology, so many of the negative feelings are associated with technology that was implemented along with promises that it could not provide. AI presents a tremendous opportunity for law firms, but timing and function are critical.

Has your firm begun to explore AI? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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