Artificial intelligence
LegalJanuary 22, 2020

Robots are not replacing attorneys - They are upgrading them

Much like software moves from 1.0 to 2.0, legal operations is getting upgraded. Are you ready for the next generation of legal ops? In this 2.0 version of how legal business is managed, we’ll see a powerful combination of technical speed and human acumen.  

A recent experiment challenged a group of experienced lawyers to review risks contained in five non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). At the same time, they ran those same documents through an artificial intelligence (AI) solution. The results?

  • Accuracy - The AI performed at 94% accuracy, matching the top-performing lawyer and outpacing the field that had an average of 85% accuracy.
  • Speed - AI far surpassed the legal professionals, taking just 26 seconds to review all five documents, compared to the lawyers’ average speed of 92 minutes.

Add to this estimates from McKinsey that say 23% of legal work can be automated, and the future of legal work begins to look a bit like science fiction.  

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While AI should be considered as a key tool for any legal practice—and is extremely helpful for doing the tasks the study referenced above highlights—it augments, rather than replaces, human beings. Most of the “cool” things lawyers do—advice, negotiations, court appearances, etc.—won't be automated anytime soon. These are the tasks that drive people to become lawyers in the first place. "I am borrowing $100k for law school so I can sit in a chair and review litigation documents all day,” said no one, ever. 

With this in mind, let’s look at how AI is driving people forward within (not out of) of the industry.

AI is my co-pilot 

With legal teams increasingly responsible for helping to meet corporate business goals, there is a greater need than ever to be able to predict spend and plan for the most likely settlement outcomes in litigation matters. AI can help law departments develop accurate budgets, estimate settlement results, and select the best counsel through the use of predictive analytics. 

Predictive analytics is a practice that combines historical and current data to provide accurate predictions of future outcomes. The process replaces guesswork, crystal ball gazing, and gut feelings when it comes to recommendations on how much a particular matter might cost, whether or not a company should litigate or settle, which law firm to use, and more. With an AI-enabled predictive analytics solution, these questions are quickly answered with data-driven insights. Predictive analytics provides context to data that lives in every legal team’s system by layering it with actionable insights originated by AI.

Next-generation legal ops  

Bill review is another area where AI is helping legal professionals become more efficient and accurate and allowing them to spend more time on the parts of legal matters that, ahem, matter.  

In-house attorneys and claims professionals responsible for the onerous and time-consuming task of reviewing invoices line by line know the manual process is inefficient and costly. As a result, frustration can build, leading to batch approvals and general human error.  

Layering in AI does not take people out of the review process completely. Rather, it handles the routine tasks and flags the outliers that require further review and human insight. In fact, incorporating AI into bill review can yield estimated cost savings of up to 10%.  

With this “found time,” lawyers and operations staff can focus more on the matters themselves rather than the administration of them. The time savings can lead to higher job satisfaction, while the accuracy of invoices can help improve relations between corporate legal and claims professionals and outside counsel. The application of these technologies also leads to new job roles, such as data analysts and scientists, big data specialists, operations managers, and more.  

AI and predictive analytics, when deployed within the workflow of legal teams, hold great promise to bring out the best in humans – not replace us. If you are interested in learning more about AI’s use in the legal profession, download our whitepapers on the use of AI in claims litigation and legal bill review

Nathan Cemenska
Director of Legal Operations and Industry Insights

Nathan Cemenska, JD/MBA, is the Director of Legal Operations and Industry Insights at Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions.

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