The Early Years Begin for AI’s Transformation of Law
by: Ian Lopez, Legal Tech Newsletter
Artificial intelligence’s (AI) entrance into any profession often features an odd mixture of ominous predictions from affected workers and executives extolling the virtues of ‘innovation,’ ‘change,’ and whatever other flashy, vague adjectives apply to the situation. Yet between the hype and horror lies a more moderate, less sexy truth that proceeds on a slower trajectory than vocal pro-and-opponents would have you believe.
The future has a way of creeping up on us, and the same can be said (unsurprisingly) for its movement into the legal industry. For while many were debating how much AI could really help legal tasks, let alone just what exactly AI actually is, technologists, vendors and lawyers with foresight were eagerly moving forward. And before we knew it, the adoption of AI-infused legal technology began its transition from the exception to the norm.
A recent adapter of AI technology is UK law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which recently inked a deal with Kira Systems (who also has deals with Clifford Chance and DLA Piper) to employ its technology for document review. Specifically, Kira’s technology allows the firm to, as Legal Weekdescribes, “search and analyze contract text,” and is applicable “across a number of different areas including due diligence, general commercial, corporate, real estate and compliance.”
Speaking to Australian Lawyer, Freshfield director of legal services Isabel Parker said, “Kira can be configured around our own custom provisions,” while enhancing “the quality of work” and freeing her team “to focus on more complex areas of work.” Similarly, the firm’s joint managing partner Stephan Eilers said the technology “will bring significant benefits in speed of delivery and cost-effectiveness.”
And while firms line up to get ahead of the curve, vendors are increasingly prepared to meet their needs. Exalted by the public as the vanguard among vendors is ROSS Intelligence, whose well-known tool for legal research in bankruptcy was described by The American Lawyer’s Susan Beck as “one of the most potentially transformative new technologies in the legal field.”
In her profile of the technology and its founder, millennial lawyer-slash-technologist Andrew Arruda, Beck chronicles a demonstration held at Von Briesen & Roper, where the firm’s CEO Randall Crocker noted the tool “operates more intuitively” than older tools for legal research and that it allows his firm and other smaller ones to be more competitive on the global stage.
The competitive advantage introduced by AI technology is a frequent conversation topic among firms and vendors alike. Writing in The Global Legal Post about the ways AI is already used to bolster some legal teams ahead of others, Neota Logic managing director Greg Wildisen notes that Foley & Lardner deployed an AI-powered mobile app (FCPA App) for “clients’ sales to self-serve payment questions anywhere, anytime” while Littler Mendelson has an app (ComplianceHR) to answer HR questions (this is part of a series of apps released by the firm). He also describes advantages offered to legal practitioners by using AI, such as faster legal advice, better staff retention, greater lead generation, new revenue streams, and the ability to “differentiate service offerings.”
To learn more about Foley’s Global Risk Solutions FCPA compliance solution, watch this short video.