Artificial intelligence and law firms

How law firms are taking advantage of the latest advancements in AI

While it has been slower than other industries to embrace the benefits of artificial intelligence, law firms are finally recognizing the value brought by chatbots and machine learning.

The field of law is not immune to the advances in artificial intelligence. Paralegals used to spend copious amounts of time deconstructing complicated legal documents as part of the “discovery” phase of a case. That was before the introduction of software capable of analyzing large volumes of documents. Examining the initial stages of a legal case became quicker, meaning paralegals were able to concentrate on more exciting work.

Artificial intelligence is now starting to make its mark in other legal areas. Chatbots are able to screen potential clients, learn about their requirements and even offer basic legal advice – a huge help to those who cannot afford it. In addition, machine learning makes the process of drafting legal documents cheaper and quicker. For example, MarginMatrix claims documents will take just three minutes with its technology compared to three hours with a lawyer.

In addition to these technological advancements, it will be crucial that law firms adopt solutions employing natural language processing (NLP). Bots, in particular, will have to analyze awkward phrases from users who are unfamiliar with legal terms.

We could be on the brink of a major leap forward where artificial intelligence handles a majority of the more mundane aspects of legal work at a faster and more accurate rate.

Chatbots: saving you valuable time

Chatbots are innovating user engagement at law firms and are even providing basic legal advice.

Law firms can use chatbots to steer potential clients to useful information about their firm, provide a friendly interface and answer initial inquiries. UK conveyancing firm, Convey Law, has created the Conveybot which provides instant fee quotes and can arrange follow-up conversations with members of the firm. In fact, chatbots will be able to triage inquiries to ensure that the relevant lawyer will see the right client. In addition, a lawyer will go into meetings aware of the individual’s background thanks to the bot’s conversation history.

Unlike humans, of course, chatbots are more accessible as they are available 24/7 outside office hours, thus, increasing business for law firms. A lawyer could wake up in the morning and the chatbot has given basic information to and taken a basic statement from a potential client overnight. Of course, this also means the bot can determine who does not need the help of the law firm – allowing employees to concentrate effectively and manage their caseload.

Chatbots: the new legal advisor?

Those who cannot afford the luxury of a solicitor also stand to benefit from the introduction of chatbots to the legal system. Stanford student Josh Browder has created DoNotPay – a chatbot which helps overturn parking fines and offers advice for refugees claiming asylum. The Facebook Messenger bot has overturned more than 160,000 parking fines and can now help fill in immigration applications to the US and Canada. Vulnerable customers who cannot usually afford legal help will, in the future, be able to use chatbots to explore their chances of bringing a successful case.

NLP: the answer for law firms

Law firms should ensure whatever chatbot they employ has robust natural language processing.

As NLP discovers the meaning behind the sentences it is particularly useful in the field of law where potential clients are unfamiliar with the correct terminology. NLP will be able to detect the common synonyms for these phrases and match them with the right answers. For example, if an individual writes that they want to “keep their kids” as a part of a divorce, the chatbot will be able to offer up the answer for “custody.”

Machine learning: taking on the grunt work

Firms with big data are turning to machine learning to increase the speed and accuracy of document automation and review work.

Machines can identify the main clauses and terminology used within a vast number of documents in order to review documents or undertake due diligence. Humans may only have time to look at a sample while machine learning can peruse through all of them in seconds. The Law Society provides evidence of how this can help firms, finding 40-50% increase in efficiency using machine learning without any initial training on it (marking up and tagging terms in a sample set of documents). When lawyers and law firms spend $8.4bn annually on research, this is a significant development.

Machine learning can also ensure the legal system is as impartial as possible. When judges arrive at a decision in the United States, it must be explained in writing. This offers a wealth of data for computers with machine learning to determine whether there were any irregularities in a particular judgment. Could prejudicial factors such as race or gender that might influence a case become a thing of the past?

Doing the legal work but not replacing lawyers

Despite scaremongering, robots are not replacing lawyers anytime soon. Using current technology, the McKinsey Global Institute has found only 23% of a lawyer’s job can be automated. This allows attorneys to concentrate on the more challenging (and perhaps enjoyable) tasks.

Chatbots that employ NLP and machine learning will be able to handle the other more mundane operations such as the initial screening process with clients and due diligence. Clients can look forward to more efficient case work, fairer judgments and even free legal advice.

For law firms, the continued improvement in the automation process will bring greater savings than ever before. This is one of those rare win-win situations for all parties involved.

Inbenta is a leader in natural language processing and artificial intelligence for customer support, e-commerce and conversational chatbots, providing an easy-to-deploy solution that improves customer satisfaction, reduces support costs, and increases revenue.

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