The impact of AI on legal departments: why legal professionals shouldn't fear for their jobs
By Tina De Maere – October 14, 2023
The recent rise of artificial intelligence has already created a lasting impact on all layers of our human society. Just like other spheres, the legal profession, too, will continue to feel the ever-growing influence of algorithms, smart tools and AI on a wide range of tasks and operations.
As a consequence, some attorneys and corporate lawyers with a sharp future vision have already started fearing for their job. They suspect that, in the coming years, AI will take over more and more day-to-day tasks autonomously until human interference has become redundant.
Is this true? Is this the right way of thinking? Should attorneys, legal interim managers and other business lawyers really be afraid to lose their jobs? As explained below, there are many tasks in which AI can assist: reviewing documents, doing legal research, analyzing case-law… However, the strength of these so-called ‘smart tools’ is to reduce the hours that are usually spent on repetitive, time-consuming assignments. The goal, therefore, is not to replace lawyers or legal freelancers, but to help them allocate time and resources more efficiently.
In the next paragraphs, we will give some examples of tasks in which AI can play a crucial role as a time-saver, cost-reducer and automator.
Automated review of legal documents
In many businesses, a lot of time is still wasted on the mere review of similar contracts. Even if most companies nowadays have adopted all sorts of templates for different kinds of commercial and other contracts, the adoption of an agreement is a highly time-consuming process. Therefore, some companies and law firms have started using or creating smart tools to help them speed up this procedure.
Because these AI systems can process huge amounts of information in no time, they can analyze legal documents way quicker than humans. In doing so, they can:
review contracts and flag potentially high-risk clauses;
indicate inconsistent language or unclear phrases and help in increasing the readability of a contract or an opinion;
check for compliance with certain legal standards, norms and statutes.
Some companies have even created tools that can produce contracts starting from a premade template or even from scratch. These software programs will then, after certain parameters have been filled in, tailor a general contract to the specific preferences or needs of a client or a supplier.
At the same time, the interference of a human lawyer is still needed to actually perform the proposed tasks, like modifying certain clauses, adopting a more comprehensive language and accepting or refusing the changes proposed by the AI tool. Close collaboration between AI and humans is therefore still a necessary condition to ensure a smooth contracting process.
Prediction of (court) case outcomes
For some businesses, litigation is another money slurping machine that takes away many resources. Especially in Belgium, court cases are expensive, very time-consuming and never guarantee a great outcome for any of the parties. Part of the problem is that many companies don’t have a clear view on the alternatives and often dive head-first into legal proceedings, while other means regularly offer better solutions for both parties.
To remedy these shortcomings, AI systems have been created to predict the outcome of potential court cases. Based on the facts of a particular case and earlier judgments of the court or judge at hand, it will make an accurate prediction of the decision that would be made. This helps companies to broaden their scope and look for other solutions, like mediation, arbitration or settlement.
For legal research, too, software exists to help you find the right cases, precedents, statutes or other legal sources. These AI tools automatically keep you up-to-date on the newest case law and legislation, propose similar sources to the ones you’re looking for and scan millions of documents in a matter of seconds to make sure you don’t miss out on any text or phrase that might be relevant to you or your case.
A platform like Legidex is an excellent example of this kind of software.
Last not but least, AI can also assist companies and law firms during their recruitment processes. Based on the preferences and needs of the business, AI tools can propose the best candidates for legal interim assignments or permanent positions.
A platform like Limine does exactly that: it combines unique technology with personal human input from legal professionals creating the perfect match between companies and lawyers.
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