Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the Legal Revolution We've Been Waiting For?

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By: Júlia Heindel Teixeira de Gouvêa

From: Sciences Po Menton

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including generative AI tools, have undeniably permeated organizations, experiencing widespread adoption. Artificial intelligence involves machines, particularly computer systems, simulating human intelligence processes. Key applications of AI encompass machine vision, expert systems, speech and image recognition, critical thinking and natural language processing (Boden, 2018). As more businesses feel compelled to embrace AI technologies to maintain competitiveness, these systems progressively integrate into organizational practices and processes, making it imperative to comprehend their influence on workplace dynamics. Whether it’s ChatGPT, Natural Language Processing (NLP) chatbots, independent vehicles or virtual assistants, AI has become a focal point in the business realm, impacting entities of all types and sizes. In the realm of law, the advent of AI presents a pivotal moment, assured to reshape the very foundations of legal practice. From streamlining routine tasks to redefining how legal professionals approach complex cases, the impact of AI on the future law work environment is both profound and far-reaching. Whilst diving into the intricacies of this digital revolution, this article will explore how AI is ready to redefine the landscape of legal work as it is currently understood.

The relationship between the judiciary and artificial intelligence can become a highly advantageous collaboration, being easily applied in multiple shapes and forms. Automatic Speech Recognition technology (ASR), uses both NLP algorithms, as well as language modeling that acknowledge human speech patterns, and so, translates spoken language into written texts. This AI tool's most apparent application is on the transcription of legal proceedings, internal conferences, client meetings, as well as legal research (podcast, interviews). On top of that, with advanced algorithms, AI can assist in jurisprudence research, automation of routine administrations activities, contract analysis as well as identifying patterns in judicial decisions and examining extensive datasets. When addressing the analysis of contracts, the Contract Intelligence (COIN) program must be upheld. This AI Software, used by JP Morgan Chase & Co to examine commercial loan agreements, has already decreased the number of loan-servicing errors and is also expected to be used for other types of legal documents. Furthermore, this software is an example on how AI-based softwares can identify failures faster, and, in many cases, more accurately than humans.

Certainly, integrating such systems into the daily operations of law firms or enterprises proves highly beneficial and efficient, resulting in faster and more accurate outcomes in routine responsibilities. As a consequence, the legal professionals may distribute their time more wisely by focusing on more complex tasks, whilst AI focuses on simpler duties.

This year, researchers held the first-ever randomized controlled trial examining the impact of AI assistance on human legal analysis. The recent research from the University of Minnesota Law School, depicted the overall efficiency of utilizing AI assistance in legal analysis, reflecting the overall reduced time spent on duties without jeopardizing the quality of the work. The study, which designated sixty law students to execute four drafting tasks: Client Memo, EE Handbook, Contract Drafting and Complaint Drafting, revealed there was a time save from 32.1% to 11.8% on all of the duties mentioned, as shown in the table below (ChoiI; Monahan; Schwarcz, 2023).

Figure 1: Source:  Jonathan H. Choi, Amy B. Monahan & Daniel Schwarcz - Lawyering in the age of artificial intelligence

Table 1: Source:  Jonathan H. Choi, Amy B. Monahan & Daniel Schwarcz - Lawyering in the age of artificial intelligence

Nevertheless, artificial intelligence extends its impact beyond that. Currently, it is being implemented across various U.S. states for the predictive assessment of case outcomes (Nikolic, 2023). Analyzing the potential of a favourable result in a legal dispute holds considerable value. Given AI's ability to access and analyze data at a faster pace than a legal professional, it can expedite the prediction of cases' outcomes with greater precision, helping clients to decide whether it is worthwhile to continue on the case or not. Furthermore, the U.S also utilizes the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS), an AI tool which evaluates the probability or chances of a defendant on repeating a criminal behavior, specifically focusing on the likelihood of them becoming a recidivist. This is not only proof that the utilization of AI in the law field is expanding beyond mere daily duties, but also that its usage is a reality and no longer solely a future idea.

However, the challenges faced by organizations in implementing AI cannot be overlooked. Notably, there are substantial concerns regarding potential violations of privacy laws. AI-powered tools have the capacity to utilize personal information for automated decision-making, posing the risk of unintended consequences. For instance, under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), law firms are obligated to implement specific measures to guarantee the accurate processing of data and protect it from being employed for unforeseen purposes (Mitrofanskiy, 2023). Given the unpredictable nature of how AI algorithms may utilize and learn from data, ensuring data protection in advance becomes imperative, underscoring one of the advantages of incorporating AI in the legal domain. Furthermore, apprehensions may emerge concerning Intellectual Property (IP) issues, given that any output generated by AI algorithms remain unprotected by prevailing copyright laws (Mitrofanskiy, 2023). In the scenario where artificial intelligence discovers data pertaining to a new invention,  the question arises: who possesses the rights to this invention—the creator or the AI software itself? The determination of ownership rights over the output becomes a crucial consideration. Moreover, the imperative lies in ensuring that AI tools refrain from extracting data from publicly accessible sources, mitigating potential legal ramifications. In fact, these hurdles cast doubt on the feasibility of successful AI integration.

In addition, it is crucial to emphasize the fact that utilizing AI in the legal field is not, in any way, a substitute for human performance. These systems are a really powerful tool indeed, however, they do not have the ability of a lawyer or a judge to comprehend subjective and emotional understandings (Menescal, 2023). Examining evidence, deciphering legislation and making moral and ethical judgements are still tasks exclusive to humans.

The future relationship between AI and the law field remains promising and has already demonstrated its capacity to yield numerous benefits for both professionals and enterprises. However, striking a balance between technology utilization and human expertise is crucial to ensure the ethical and transparent application of AI that adheres to legal principles. This equilibrium not only fosters innovation but also safeguards the integrity of legal processes. As we navigate the intersection of law and technology, thoughtful consideration and proactive measures will be essential to harness the full potential of artificial intelligence while upholding the core tenets of the legal profession.


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More posts by Júlia Heindel Teixeira de Gouvêa.
Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the Legal Revolution We've Been Waiting For?
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