What new AI software means for the legal sector

Advancements in artificial intelligence software are coming thick and fast. Only a mere five years ago, law firm leaders questioned the capabilities of AI; they dreamed of the day smart technology could be used to streamline procedural work and reduce their overheads yet feared what it meant for their future.

Today, artificial intelligence is already transforming the legal profession in many ways: from due diligence, document automation and electronic billing to legal analytics and prediction technology for litigation outcomes, recent developments have cemented AI as an invaluable addition to a lawyers’ arsenal.

This month, London-based AI start-up Eigen Technologies managed to raise a whopping £13 million from Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments and Singapore’s state investment fund Temasek. For some, it may look like a leap of faith. To those in the know, it’s clear as day to see the value their product has to offer.

Using artificial intelligence technology to read legal and financial documents, lawyers and bankers can now confidently analyse complex contracts — everything from derivatives to land deeds — and find specific clauses in seconds. As well as Goldman Sachs, magic circle firm Linklaters have adopted the technology along with Evercore and ING. But what does this mean for the legal sector?

In a recent report, Deloitte predicted over 100,000 legal roles to be automated by 2036. On the surface, it’s not an easy pill to swallow for the profession. The good news is it won’t happen overnight – robots won’t storm law firms across the globe while we sleep (or work). While it’s true that advancements in AI technology will gradually close in on the roles of paralegals, juniors, researchers and clerks, talented lawyers will remain immune to the digital revolution. Society will always have a need for talented lawyers – after all, to imagine a world in which our entire justice system relies on C3PO is quite frankly terrifying.

Instead, the future of law looks bright, with innovative developments promising reduced costs and increased client satisfaction. Eigen Technologies are just one of the many start-ups solely focused on supercharging artificial intelligence for the legal sector. Kira Systems asserts that its software is capable of performing a more accurate due diligence contract review by searching, highlighting, and extracting relevant content for analysis. Ross Intelligence uses natural language processing software to answer questions in real-time by searching through literally billions of documents in seconds.

If you can think of a lawyer who would rather trawl through this many documents for information instead of using this software, let us know. All in all, the advantages of new legal AI software cannot be denied. However, while law firms will undoubtedly benefit from the time and costs saved through artificial intelligence, it’s their clients who are the real winners. Instead of being charged for the procedural work of paralegals, their bill will only account for the hours the lawyer has dedicated in progressing their case rather than the overheads of support staff.

Support staff, on the other hand, will be encouraged to take further training to help clients at a higher level. This change in dynamic is not unique to the legal profession: instead of fearing for the day we are robbed of administrative duties, we should yearn for the one that gives us more time to learn, grow and further our careers.