Artificial Intelligence and the Law

Posted authored by Khalid Hasan

Technology has changed the way we live, communicate, and has made its way into every profession, including the legal profession. As Comment 8 to Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 explains, an attorney is required “[t]o maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” [1]

Lawyers must become aware and familiar with a new form of technology that is emerging and changing the practice of law – Artificial Intelligence! Imagine being able to review thousands of documents, analyze contracts, or complete legal research within seconds, which is what AI offers practicing lawyers.

Artificial Intelligence or AI “is the term used to describe how computers can perform tasks normally viewed as requiring human intelligence, such as recognizing speech and objects, making decisions based on data, and translating languages. AI mimics certain operations of the human mind.” [2]

“Machine learning is a category within the larger field of artificial intelligence that is concerned with conferring upon machines the ability to ‘learn.’” [3] Machine learning is achieved by using algorithms or rules that discover patterns, adapting and learning from the information exposed to the program. [4]

AI programs can train itself through trial and error or be self-learning.  “Neuroevolution” is a project being led by OpenAI. [5] OpenAI’s program creates a set of rules in the software, which then creates several hundred rules with slight variations in each. All the rules are applied to the task at hand and the data is fed back into the system to determine which variation was the most successful. This process repeats itself until the system comes up with a policy that can accomplish the task most effectively. Google’s AI program creates algorithms that build and analyzes other algorithms to determine which variation of the algorithms is the most successful. [6] AI programs can also be trained by humans feeding it data. The AI takes the data and creates a set of patterns or rules that are applied to the task it is assigned to accomplish.

As of today, AI is already being used in the legal profession to automate repetitive and routine tasks, conduct legal research, review voluminous documents, and much more. Legal research can be a tedious and time-consuming task for most lawyers. However, with automation and AI, legal research has become much more streamlined and efficient. Currently, the two products utilizing AI to power its legal research platforms are Westlaw Edge[7] and Ross Intelligence, [8] which is powered by IBM’s Watson computer. Westlaw Edge can conduct legal research by simply searching a question and getting an answer. Westlaw Edge’s litigation analytics provides information covering judges, courts, attorneys and law firms, for both federal and state courts. Lawyers briefing motions may become a thing of the past with software such as CaseMine.[9] The software takes an uploaded brief and suggests changes that should be made to make it more authoritative and provides additional information to strengthen a lawyer’s arguments.

AI has made a large impact on document review. Document review is the labor-intensive and tedious task of sorting through hundred or thousands of documents to determine a variety of issues, such as which documents are relevant or need to be withheld from disclosure. AI document review program allow attorneys to flag certain documents or set parameters for the search. The AI document review program can learn and find the appropriate documents based on the rules and parameters that are set for each specific case. An example of AI document review is JPMorgan’s program, called COIN, which can perform document review tasks that took legal aides 360,000 hours. [10]

AI powered contract analyzer software, such as eBrevia [11] and Kira, [12] extracts information and data to ensure contract compliance, summarizes contract provisions, and can compare contracts for discrepancies.

There is a general sentiment emerging that AI will significantly disrupt the legal market and is here to stay. AI powered technology significantly reduces the amount of time required to complete tedious and mundane tasks, through automation. In turn, reducing the amount of times lawyers spend on tasks, money clients spend on legal services, reduces operation cost, and can complete task which took hours within second. According to Deloitte, 39% of legal jobs can be automated, and over the next twenty years, about 100,000 legal sector jobs are likely to be automated. [13]

As of today, AI technology in the legal profession has not become the norm in everyday practice and its future is unknown. However, as AI advances and becomes more sophisticated, it is likely to become a tool utilized in everyday practice and is here to stay. The future of the legal profession and implementation of AI technology is something all lawyers must follow closely and become familiar with in their own practice.

[1] Ill. R. Prof’l Conduct 1.1, Comment 8.

[2] Lauri Donahue, A Primer on Using Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Profession, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology (2018), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[3] Cecille De Jesus & Todd Jaquith, Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and How It Really Works, Futurism (2016), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[4] Donahue, supra note 2.

[5] Edd Gent, OpenAI Just Beat Google DeepMind at Atari With an Algorithm From the 80s, Singularity Hub (2017), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[6] Cade Metz, Building A.I. That Can Build A.I., The New York Times (2017), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[7] Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge | Legal Solutions, Thomson Reuters Westlaw | Legal Solutions, (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[8] ROSS Intelligence, (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[9] CaseMine, (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[10] Hugh Son, This software does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours, The Independent (2017), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[11] eBrevia, (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[12] Kira Systems, (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

[13] Jelor Gallego, New Report Predicts Over 100,000 Legal Jobs Will Be Lost To Automation, Futurism (2017), (last visited Aug 14, 2018).

About the Author:

Khalid Hasan Head Shot (1)

Khalid Hasan is an associate at Lucas & Cardenas, practicing in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and medical malpractice. Click here for Khalid’s full bio.

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