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This article was originally published in November 2018 and was updated on November 20, 2023.
Historically, people often associated artificial intelligence (AI) with visions of robots from science-fiction movies — but AI is increasingly becoming a part of real, everyday life. New AI-backed technologies are becoming more accessible across a variety of industries, rapidly changing the way we work. Of course, change can be nerve-wracking, but AI brings a host of benefits with regard to efficiency and accuracy.
So, what does this mean for the legal industry? Can AI help lawyers revolutionize their practice, and, if so, how?
This article answers that question by discussing types of legal AI, specific ways attorneys might use AI in their research and practice, and what we should expect from AI in the future.
First, let's define artificial intelligence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, perception, and decision-making. AI systems can be programmed to analyze large amounts of data, recognize patterns, and make predictions or decisions based on that analysis. AI technologies include machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing, and robotics. The goal of AI is to create intelligent machines that can perform tasks more efficiently, accurately, and autonomously than humans.
Put simply, AI helps you do your current legal workload faster and saves you time.
Some of the ways that lawyers might use AI for legal work include:
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It’s important to realize that the term artificial intelligence doesn’t necessarily denote one thing—there are many sub-categories of AI that several technologies and capabilities represent. We'll go over several types of AI, but to get a quick overview of technical terms and definitions, check out the glossaries linked below:
Attorneys aiming to beat their competition in the realm of legal research should pay close attention to machine learning.
Machine learning gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed by utilizing algorithms that can learn from and make predictions about data. Such algorithms operate by building a model from example inputs in order to make data-driven predictions or decisions, rather than following strictly static program instructions.
When used properly, machine learning helps attorneys dig deeper into research. It can find ancillary topics that are relevant to a search, spot connections between seemingly unrelated subjects, and even offer suggestions for additional search queries.
This technology can also proactively correct errors in search terms to keep attorneys on the right path— which brings us to something called language analytics.
Lawyers know how important a specific word can be — and this historically created a problem for computers.
It’s an understatement to say that legal-speak is different than natural language. But how does a computer decipher the nuances between the way humans speak and write, while accounting for intricacies like colloquialisms, dialect, idioms, and sarcasm? Language analytics.
It's possible to teach a computer how to read legal text through advanced natural language processing, also known as NLP. With the right analytics tools, attorneys can pinpoint precise words or phrases within millions of lines of text.
Not only does this speed up the legal research process, legal tech solutions like Context can help extract key judicial language. Imagine being able to use a specific judge’s words in an argument — that's a level of preparation that could potentially have a large impact on motion verdicts.
Natural language processing is also handy for conducting searches. If a machine can recognize certain words or phrases, it can help deliver more relevant results and reveal where specific phrases appear in a lengthy document.
Example of Natural Language Search in Lexis+
Any discussion of artificial intelligence is bound to include talk of analytics and big data, so it’s important to understand legal analytics.
In the name of brevity, analytics is the science of drawing insights from large volumes of data. This can be particularly valuable when it comes to forecasting future events—which is where predictive analytics come in.
So, for instance, by analyzing a massive set of verdicts and settlements, a computer can make a reasonably accurate prediction of how long a case may take to reach a decision or how much a possible cash award could be. That’s handy insight for attorneys deciding on whether or not it makes financial sense to take a case.
Alternatively, an attorney can also predict things like motion outcomes. Take a specific judge for example. By analyzing their past grant/denial rates for a particular motion, it's possible to predict how successful a similar motion request could be.
This insight isn’t wizardry—it’s data analytics. And analytics are the fuel that powers artificial intelligence engines.
Interested in learning more about data analytics at LexisNexis? Watch this short video.
So far, this article has shared how AI can help lawyers practice the law, but there are other areas in which it offers benefits. From a business perspective, client service is crucial to a law firm—perhaps more so than most other industries.
As a result, many firms are experimenting with Chatbots. These are AI-powered client service tools that can answer routine client questions quickly and automatically, freeing up more time to focus on big-picture issues.
AI can also assist with automation, which can include basic things like scheduling and client intake, along with sending out confirmation and reminder emails.
Anyone who’s interested in law technology will tell you that artificial intelligence in the legal profession has already made a huge impact in the way lawyers approach their work.
Though some have opined that AI spells doom for attorneys, it might be more accurate to argue that AI should be used as a helpful tool to get ahead — and LexisNexis is here to support you while you figure out how to best use AI to your advantage.
Learn more about Lexis+ AI or contact us to try a cutting-edge, AI-enhanced tool today.
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