Is Artificial Intelligence No Longer Cutting Edge?

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ILTACON Series Will Explore Myths, Realities of AI and Automation in the Law

The legal technology industry is gearing up for one of its premier events of the year, the International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON). The massive event, which kicks off on Aug. 14 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, will boast four major keynotes, almost 200 peer-based educational sessions with over 350 speakers, and an exhibit hall featuring more than 200 service and software vendors to the legal market.

A theme pervasive to many of the sessions and, as a result, much of the conversation in the hallways and planned networking events, is artificial intelligence. AI, which in the legal world takes the shape of machine learning and natural language processing, for example, will be extensively deliberated during a three-part series, “Artificial Intelligence in Law.” Experts will not only discuss how AI being used to leverage data, automate legal work, reduce costs and enhance efficiencies, but also share what it takes to implement AI initiatives in legal departments and law firms.

“It begins with an understanding of what the role of AI is in the delivery of legal services, and what it isn’t. In the legal industry, the mention of AI is too often met with either fear, disbelief, or irrational exuberance. But none of those reactions is warranted,” said Martin Tully, co-chair of the data law practice at Akerman and a panelist at the AI kickoff session on Monday, Aug. 14, entitled “The Myths, Realities and Future of Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the Law (Part 1 of 3).”

As Tully explains, the legal industry should think of AI as meaning as “augmented intelligence,” “something that allows lawyers and their clients to far better understand information and data, and to make smarter, more efficient decisions – but not replacing humans with an army of legal robots,” he said.

There are at least four common AI uses for which firms or law department can easily license commercial, off-the-shelf AI software and deploy it in a manner similar to other practice technologies, according to Ron Friedman, partner at consulting firm Fireman & Company. Friedman, who will be a panelist during the “Artificial Intelligence in Law: AI in Action (Part 2 of 3)” session on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. The four use cases are:

  1. Document review in e-discovery (“predictive coding”);
  2. Contract due diligence review in corporate transactions;
  3. Third party legal research products in multiple practice areas; and
  4. Time entry and matter analysis.

“All four uses address clearly defined problems lawyers face. All four have multiple providers that offer off-the-shelf software. These products are straightforward to deploy from both the IT or user training/adoption perspective,” Friedman said. “Many lawyers have used predictive coding for years. One software company that provides software to accelerate due diligence reviews recently publicly stated this week that it has over 200 law firm licensees that run 1,000 projects per month. The AI-driven legal research products have seen rapid uptake. Deploying AI is no longer cutting edge.”

In some circles, AI may no longer be vanguard, but it’s still a notion that many law firms are only beginning to accept or embrace. With pressure coming from corporate legal departments to not only improve efficiencies and save money, but to also be more technologically advanced, credible AI technologies can be an attractive option for firms when they see it as a way to create more business value, and make their jobs easier.

“We’re increasingly hearing from law firm partners and KM leaders that their clients are asking ‘What is your AI strategy?’” said Jake Heller, CEO of Casetext, which offers AI-backed legal research solutions. “There is enormous pressure to increase both quality and efficiency, and luckily certain applications of AI can actually help firms do that today. As a former litigator I know it can seem intimidating, but despite the fact that the power behind AI is extremely complex, what’s important is that the interface be really simple. We’ve focused on solutions that feel more like Google than a scary new tool.”

Certainly law firms, as well as legal departments, vary in degree by which they are adopting AI-based technologies, but the majority of law firms, and in most other business verticals, don’t have mature AI strategies, according to Alex Lazo, CIO of Mullen Coughlin.

“AI is such a new technology and just now starting to trend,” he said. “You will see some early adopters with any new tech that start to pave the way.”

ILTACON’s third session in its AI series, “Artificial Intelligence in Law: From Theory to Practice (Part 3 of 3),will take place on Aug. 16 at 11 am.