Balancing the Scales

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making a difference to how legal work is done, but it isn’t the threat it is made out to be. AI is making impressive progress and shaking up things all over the world today. The assumption that advancements in technology and artificial intelligence will render any profession defunct is just that, an assumption and a false one. The only purpose this assumption serves is creating mass panic and hostility towards embracing technology that is meant to make our lives easier.

Let us understand what this means explicitly for the legal world. The ambit of AI includes recognising human speech and objects, making decisions based on data, and translating languages. Tasks that can be defined as ‘search-and-find’ type can be performed by AI.

Law firms have been notorious for their slow adoption and affinity to new technology. Introducing AI to this profession will primarily be for the purpose of automating mundane, tedious tasks that require negligible human intelligence. The kind of artificial intelligence that is employed by industries in the current scene, when extended to law will enable quicker services at a lower price. Boosting productivity is drastically different from replacing lawyers. That change is far from close.

In the context of law, AI is meant to automate a number of tasks that take up precious working hours lawyers could be devoting to tasks that require discerning, empathy, and trust- qualities that cannot be replicated by even the most sophisticated form of AI. The legal profession is one of the oldest professions in the world. Thriving over a 1000 years; trust, judgement, and diligence are the pillars of this profession. The most important pillar is the relationship of trust between a lawyer and clients, which can only be achieved through human connection and interaction.

While artificial intelligence can be useful in scanning and organising documents pertaining to a case, it cannot perform higher-level tasks such as sharp decision-making, relationship-building with valuable clients and writing legal briefs, advising clients, and appearing in court. These are over and above the realm of computerisation.

Immediate applications

1. Natural Language Processing (NLP): The smooth proceeding of a case is not possible without sound legal research. While presenting cases lawyers need to assimilate information in the form of legal research by referring to a number of relevant cases to find those that will favour their client’s motion. Lawyers are even required to thoroughly know the opposing stand and supporting legal arguments they can expect to prepare a watertight defense strategy. AI, a software that operates on natural language enables electronic discovery of information relevant to a case, contract reviews, and automation generation of legal documents.

2. Predictive Analytics and Visualisation: AI utilises big-data analytics which enables visualisation of case data. It also allows for creation of a map of the cases which were cited in previous cases and their resulting verdicts, as per the website Towards Data Science. The probability of a positive outcome of a case can be predicted by leveraging predictive analytics with machine learning. This is advantageous to firms as they can determine the return on investment in litigation and whether an agreement or arbitration should be considered.

Author Dr. Purvi Pokhariyal, Director and Dean

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