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AI in the legal sector Featured

While the working practices of many in the legal industry can be difficult to change given its established traditions and processes, recent trends suggest that lawyers are beginning to embrace the new. Indeed, forward thinking legal firms are increasingly integrating AI in order to streamline their processes and reduce the time spent on administrative tasks.

According to a recent study of London law firms by CBRE, 48% already rely on at least one AI tool. Consequently, I believe the legal sector is next in line to be disrupted by advances in AI technology. However, it’s important that industry leaders don’t lose sight of their ethical and professional standards when integrating AI into their firm’s practices.

Where the legal sector is concerned, the primary purpose of AI is to allow firms to better manage and index their vast digital libraries. Information is a key resource for any firm and AI tools like Ravn allow legal professionals to save thousands of hours of reading and research.

However, AI’s contribution to the legal sector is not limited to automating vast swathes of paralegal work. AI could even revolutionise the way lawyers draw up contracts by allowing them to craft complex documents that are tailored to a particular client in seconds.

While AI represents a golden opportunity for law firms to streamline their processes and cut down on labour costs, it’s important that legal professionals strive to integrate AI as ethically as possible. For many tools to be effective they require firms to input client data and this can cause issues if legal staff aren’t well-trained on the latest data security practices.

AI has also attracted scrutiny for producing biased outcomes. In order to mitigate against this possibility, end users have to stay alert to the formation of discriminatory patterns. Ultimately, the full extent of AI’s utility to the legal sector is to be determined. For the time being, legal professionals should probably work in concert with experts from the world of AI to ensure that firms can benefit from the full potential on offer from AI toolsets. 

It is important to note that AI is probably best understood as a way of optimising the services provided by law firms by reducing the time spent on research and other administrative tasks. It’s not positioned to outperform the high-end tasks performed by legal professionals.

However, if AI is to truly realise its potential then industry leaders can’t simply view it in terms of allowing lawyers to do as they always have done but more efficiently. Lawyers have to start thinking more like innovators. After all AI should be seen as a tool employed to reach a bigger objective – it is for industry insiders to ascertain how to best apply new technologies to their business and industry more generally.

AI is still evolving and it’s important that lawyers play a role alongside developers in shaping the future role of AI within the legal space. However, in order to meaningfully contribute to the lawtech conversation, lawyers first need to familiarise themselves with the different AI toolsets available. To this end, Fountech has created a new legal white paper which explores how firms might integrate AI into their business. Ultimately, with proper understanding of AI’s strengths and limitations, lawyers can begin to make their firms more technology and data driven.

As an innovator in the AI space, I’m excited by law firms’ willingness to use AI tools to become better businesses. And while there are challenges ahead, I’m optimistic that the coming decade of disruption will ultimately lead to a better, more accessible legal industry.

Nikolas Kairinos, Founder and CEO, Fountech

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