AI is ever-evolving, and change is coming to all of professional services – including the practice of law. The concept of artificial intelligence (“AI”) can be traced back to the late fifties; however, the backbone of more recent advancements is in the areas of computing power, storage, and algorithm design. As each of these areas improves, AI advancements are sure to follow.
Even among non-attorney technologists, artificial intelligence is a hot topic; yet in all of the debate, nobody who has seriously studied, investigated, or even read about AI doubts there will be a landscape of change.
Earlier this year, at CNBC’s @Work Talent + HR Conference, Ginni Rometty, Chair, President and CEO of IBM said:
I expect AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to 10 years. This will require skills training on a large scale, and companies have to do it in a way that is inclusive — even embracing people who may not have a four-year college degree. The last time we had such a major paradigm shift was when the internet was introduced.
In other words, there is not really a question of “if,” but rather, of “when” and “how.”
The Fear of Change in the Legal Profession
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
Change can be broken into two large buckets: change that is optional, and change that is not. A person can decide to buy a new house, whereas the unfortunate death of a loved one often is not by choice.
Many do not like change – attorneys are renowned for this. In my two decades working with attorneys from across the United States, I have found attorneys to be among the most resistant to change among all of the professional service providers. To me, it’s fascinating that a group of trained logicians does not always recognize the difference between optional change and mandatory change. Whether they like it or not, law firms are businesses, and the most successful firms – especially plaintiffs’ firms – pay attention to business fundamentals like Return on Investment (ROI), marketing, et al.
Recognizing change and innovating to accommodate it has always been the hallmark of successful businesses — and it always will be.
How Disruptive Technology Changed the Game
Consider E-discovery, for example. At one point, a firm using E-discovery tools were rare, even laughable. It was simply unthinkable that a firm with a literal warehouse of associates scouring through documents could ever be upended by a firm using E-discovery technology. Today, it’s the complete opposite — a firm engaging in high-volume production review that does not utilize technology would be a pariah. The E-discovery paradigm shifted and it did so relatively quickly.
In June 2007, the first iPhone was released by Apple, which up until then, had been known for computers, and iPods. Steve Jobs recognized the value of enveloping computing technology with smartphones early on. In fiscal year 2007, Apple had $24.6 billion in revenue, with relatively little coming from the fledgling iPhone. In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone, Apple had nearly $63 billion in revenue. Today, just 12 years after its launch, the iPhone now accounts for nearly 70% of Apple revenue, which is estimated to be north of $400 billion.
The ability to see and proactively react to the coming change vaulted Apple into a powerhouse company. Had it buried its head and continued to focus on iPods and Macs, Apple may not be in business in any meaningful way. The iPhone started as “an iPod within a phone,” yet for years now has given users access to Siri, a narrow use of AI.
Many homes in America now have home assistants where users can simply speak and receive information, order items, and many other things – such is the new “normal” in everyday American life.
Artificial Intelligence in Legal Technology
From time tracking to contract review, to brief analysis and research, we see technology firms quickly arise to meet the needs of lawyers, seemingly every day. Some of these technology firms fall equally as fast, however “before its time” their ideas often are. Add in the pervasive fear of change yet common among attorneys, and the strides the legal field could be making to increase its overall efficiency becomes stagnant, to the point of non-existence. Take, for example:
- LawGeex is an automated contract review platform that uses AI to answer the simple question, “can I sign this?” Their idea is simple: a contract is sent to a business, uploaded to LawGeex’ AI, which then reviews the contract. If issues are identified, the contract is escalated to a legal team with the questionable language highlighted. Not only is the time savings immense, more importantly, the accuracy is unparalleled. In a study of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) review, five legal contracts were analyzed by 20 experienced attorneys, as well as the AI. The AI took just 26 seconds to review all five NDAs, while the attorneys took, on average, 92 minutes. Most impressively, LawGeex’ AI correctly identified the legal issues with 94% accuracy compared to an average of 85% for the attorneys. The best lawyer actually matched LawGeex with a 94% score, while the lowest performing lawyer managed just 67%. One can find more information about LawGeex here.
- ROSS Intelligence is an AI-based search tool intended to assist attorneys. Their tool allows for several different planes of search query matching:
- Fact Match allows the attorney to focus his or her research by emphasizing the unique case facts. Matching facts will be tagged and highlighted in the text of relevant cases.
- Motion Match allows the attorney to develop their strongest arguments more quickly by identifying cases with the same procedural posture presented by the case.
- Deep Match utilizes multiple algorithms to determine a case’s relevance.
ROSS allows for natural language searches to become more in-depth queries that then assist attorneys in providing the best legal representation they can possibly give to their clients. One can find more information about ROSS Intelligence here.
- GrowPath utilizes its machine-learning (“ML”) AI, in concert with GrowPath’s patented logic tool, to automatically weigh the facts of a potential case and to project case value. GrowPath is the first platform, specifically built for the plaintiffs’ firm, which uses AI. In most plaintiffs’ firms, their income is derived from contingency fees, whereby the attorney is only compensated if the plaintiff recovers damages. There is inherent risk there for the plaintiffs’ attorney, so case selection is everything – both in determining whether there is a case, and in estimating its value, which allows for the prioritization in real time – all without an attorney’s involvement. The attorney can ascribe subjective values to its custom algorithm and the ML AI determines value based on the firm’s resolved matters. One can find more information about GrowPath here.
The present state of AI is one that serves as an assistive technology, intended to amplify and improve the professional judgment of an attorney – not replace the attorney’s role.
The above technologies are but a few examples of the many firms utilizing AI to deliver a wide range of services to attorneys. The present state of AI is one that serves as an assistive technology, intended to amplify and improve the professional judgment of an attorney – not replace the attorney’s role.
As with every industry, AI will be disruptive – the successful attorney will be an early adopter. The early adopter will become comfortable with the ever-changing landscape of technology, which will make future changes less painful, and perhaps, even second-nature.
Eric Sanchez is the Founder of GrowPath.
Eric has a well-earned reputation for logistics, efficiency and innovation, born from his diverse background and nearly two decades as an executive in what has become the largest plaintiffs’ practice in North Carolina.