May 5, 2017

Artificial intelligence is coming for law firms

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Chances are if you're a paralegal or a junior lawyer entering the field, you'd rather spend your time doing other things than scanning documents for clients' names or other mundane information. New artificial intelligence systems designed specifically for law firms can help remedy that situation by automating some of these lower-level jobs.

Why it matters: Although some entry-level paralegal jobs could be replaced by automation, AI systems cannot replicate the creativity, empathy, and argumentative reasoning required of a lawyer — so your lawyer won't be replaced by a robot any time soon. Furthermore, these AI advancements could open new, more fulfilling opportunities for aspiring lawyers to break into the field in a role that is more closely aligned to what they would do in the court room or when working with clients.

What's next: Deloitte predicts 116,000 legal jobs will be lost to automation in the next 20 years.

How it works: One law firm in the UK, Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), implemented an AI system to help with certain real estate cases. Ravn, a legal technology startup, created a system that analyzes the UK Land Registry title deeds to extract data and information in order to provide legal notices for the correct property owners in these disputes.

Why it works: This is something junior lawyers and paralegals would have done in the past, and it would have taken them weeks to pull this data. AI systems like Ravn's accomplish the same thing in minutes. Linklaters, another UK law firm, estimated it would take 12 minutes for a junior lawyer to search through 16 UK and European regulatory registers for clients' names and their banks; their AI system could comb through thousands of names in a few hours.

The goal: "We get AI to do a bunch of things cheaply, efficiently and accurately — which is most important," said Wendy Miller, partner and co-head of real estate disputes at BLP, per FT. "It leaves lawyers to do the interesting stuff."

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