Artificial Intelligence

How AI Augmentation is Transforming the Legal Industry

AI augmentation offers legal professionals options to streamline processes. Learn how artificial intelligence is transforming the legal industry in 2022.

Only a few years ago, any mention of artificial intelligence (AI) brought about visions of robots running our lives. Today, AI has become reality, albeit a very different reality from the previous science fiction versions.

Rather than governing human lives, artificial intelligence is being used to enhance or augment them. Several industry sectors, including transportation and hospitality, have started incorporating AI into their day-to-day processes. For the legal industry, AI augmentation opens up opportunities to help speed up processes, avoid mistakes, and, ultimately, serve clients better.


What is AI Augmentation?

The term artificial intelligence refers to intelligence shown by machines, such as computers, as opposed to the natural intelligence of humans. AI learns from and mimics human thought processes.

AI augmentation is closely related to the concept of AI, but they are not quite the same. Whilst AI’s objective is to replace humans within processes, AI augmentation aims to assist those humans. The goal of AI augmentation is to make humans better at what they are doing.

One way of thinking of AI augmentation is to compare it to contact lenses. The technology cannot replace your eyes, but it allows them to work better than they could without support.


How could AI Augmentation affect Legal Professionals?

Using technology is nothing new for the legal profession. For about 20 years, law firms have had access to a form of machine learning known as e-discovery. This tool uses classification to make document review faster, simpler, and more precise.

Today, AI augmentation offers the legal profession a vast array of options to streamline lengthy processes, including research and administrative tasks like billing. What the technology cannot do is replace lawyers and their ability to build relationships and advise on complex matters. This may be possible in the future.

For now, AI augmentation is transforming legal services in these areas:

  • Due diligence
  • Improved timely awareness of legal issues
  • Help with document review and legal research
  • Improved interdepartmental communication
  • Predict legal outcomes


1. AI Augmentation Improves Due Diligence

Legal firms use the due diligence process to uncover and confirm background information on behalf of their clients. Much of this work is done by legal support professionals, who meticulously comb through facts and figures, including previous judgments on the subject.

Due diligence work can be time-consuming and tedious. This tediousness might lead to humans making mistakes. AI augmentation and automation tools are perfect to support humans with due diligence. Technology can take over some of the more mundane parts of the process and complete it more efficiently and accurately than humans would. A great example of companies investing in AI is Thomson Reuters recent acquisition of ThoughtTrace. In their press release they stated, “We are excited to have ThoughtTrace joining our organization, and this acquisition brings additional technology and expertise to further the AI and analytics capabilities in our LegalTech platform."

Legal support staff save time and can re-direct their attention to more complex parts of the process.


2. AI Augmentation Improves Timely Awareness of Potential Issues

Lawyers often handle a large number of clients with different requirements such as contract renewals and other negotiations.

It is easy to overlook upcoming issues or only become aware of them at the very last minute. As a consequence, the legal work may be rushed and deliver a lesser result. AI augmentation software like ModuleQ makes it easy for legal advisers to stay on top of their client's needs in real-time. Our People-Facing AI understands when legal issues are arising and notifies its users with plenty of time to spare and prepare for future proceedings.


3. AI Augmentation Supports Documents Review and Legal Research

A 2021 study from Wolters Kluwer identified coping with increasingly complex information and larger amounts of data as a top pain point for lawyers. The study caught the interest of Microsoft. The companies teamed up to start looking for solutions to productivity challenges most legal companies today face.

Their goal was to give legal professionals access to high-value content relevant to their work and collected from a variety of data sources. The results needed to integrate into the lawyers’ existing workflows. For many, that meant being easily compatible with Microsoft Word. A prototype of this AI augmentation product has been up and running since December 2021 and is currently being tested by selected professionals.

Documents review and legal research are among the most time-consuming aspects of current legal work. Finding the right document can be tricky, and analyzing large amounts of data takes time and is not always successful.

AI technology exceeds at data analysis. Computer technology simply outperforms humans when it comes to “reading” documents, scrutinizing their contents, and finding patterns. Within the legal field, machine-driven intelligence can quickly retrieve previous cases, compare their outcomes, and summarize findings.

Even within legal research alone, AI augmentation technology is simply faster at finding relevant cases than a human researcher would be. With cases highlighted, legal support professionals can then take over and review them. The lengthy, tedious part of their work has simply been automated. At the same time, the legal professional could focus on the aspect of the work requiring true human intelligence.


4. AI Augmentation Improves Interdepartmental Communications

In-house counsel can seem removed from other arms of a business. In some companies, the legal team is perceived as a group of troubleshooters when things might be going wrong. There may be little communication between legal and sales or operations when everything is running smoothly.

This lack of connection and communication represents at best a missed opportunity. At worst, it may lead to legal problems when it comes to contractual or regulatory changes. AI augmentation can support teams with a variety of tasks. Complex contract negotiations are prominent examples.

AI can check the legality of existing contracts or look for precedent. In addition, software like Module Q is perfectly capable of providing legal boilerplate language for standardized parts of contracts. The technology can also help manage versions of those contracts and take care of the signatures required.

If there are impending regulatory changes or contracts are about to expire, AI augmentation provides alerts to all relevant departments. Stakeholders avoid missing critical deadlines or having to rush to ensure compliance.


5. AI Augmentation can Predict Legal Outcomes

One of the most frequently asked questions in any lawyer-client relationship is this: “What are my chances?” Whilst experienced lawyers will be able to counsel their clients on the potential legal outcome of their case based on existing experience, AI augmentation can do better.

Arguably, one of the biggest strengths of AI-based technology is its capacity to analyze vast quantities of data. When AI predicts the outcome of a case, it can analyze dozens, if not thousands of precedent cases. It can also take into account the judge’s history of rulings and other factors before arriving at a conclusion.

Clients will still need to decide whether they want to settle or prefer to go through court proceedings. But they have a much more solid foundation of knowledge on which to base that decision.


The Next Step

AI augmentation has started to make its mark on legal services worldwide. Whilst technology remains incapable of replacing legal support professionals or lawyers, augmentation software can certainly make them better.

Legal research, document review, and the prediction of legal outcomes are only three areas in which AI-based technology is outperforming humans. Consultancy firm Deloitte predicts that within 20 years, more than 100,000 legal jobs will be automated. This change will transform the industry and change the business models of legal services companies. It will also increase the demand for more highly qualified legal professionals whose work will be supported by AI augmentation technology.


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