Artificial Intelligence and your legal practice

How is AI transforming the legal sector and what tools are giving firms a competitive edge?

Published on 24 January, 2021 by Susanne Kennedy

Tags: Timekeeping, Productivity, Automation, Data & Reporting

Artificial Intelligence in the legal sector

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the legal sector in many ways. By automating human tasks that are typically labour-intensive and time consuming, AI can streamline a law firm’s daily operations and improve their bottom line. 

According to a recent report published by Deloitte, 114,000 legal jobs are likely to be automated in the next 20 years. Similarly, a recent study by CBRE reveals that 48% of law firms in London are already using AI, with 41% planning to do so in the near future.

Now is the time for law firms to embrace the benefits of AI and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Let’s take a closer look at how artificial intelligence is being used in the legal sector today:

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence refers to computer systems and software that can perform beyond their original programming. Machines that use AI are able to mimic human operations and continually improve through deep learning algorithms. 

One of the most advanced examples of AI is Google’s search engine, which uses natural language processing to understand a user’s search queries and deliver the most relevant information. 

How is AI being used in the legal sector?

In the legal sector, new ways to use AI are constantly being developed to complete data-driven tasks that require accuracy and are time sensitive. With AI, these tasks can be completed with the utmost accuracy, in a fraction of the time it would take a human. As such, AI frees up a law firm’s time to focus on building cases, without becoming overwhelmed with research and paperwork.

Tracking and improving billable hours

Keeping an accurate record of billable hours is one of the most time consuming tasks for lawyers. Intelligent time tracking software like WiseTime eases the administrative burden on lawyers and provides firms with a complete overview of where their time is being spent. This information can then be used to identify areas where billable hours can be improved or new procedures implemented.

For example, if one lawyer has high billable hours, the insights garnered from tracking their time automatically may reveal a process that can be adopted company-wide. Similarly, when a law firm has a clear overview of where their time is being spent, they can delegate non-billable tasks, freeing up fee-earners’ time to focus on billable work.

Researching and reviewing documents

AI-powered software like ROSS Intelligence and Kira Systems are being used by law firms to carry out in-depth research faster than a human can manage. Question-based searches that scan vast amounts of information can save lawyers time in finding answers to critical legal questions.

Document analysis features also enable law firms to review documents and assign them to a particular case automatically. Using machine learning, algorithms can analyse the content of a document and assign it to a case based on previous categorisations. 

Legal tech company LawGeex, recently pitted 20 US lawyers against their AI-driven document review software. The task was to review risks contained in five non-disclosure agreements. The AI software achieved an accuracy level of 94%, compared to 85% for the human lawyers. It took the lawyers an average of 92 minutes to review the five NDAs, compared to 26 seconds for the software.

Performing due diligence

Every law firm has to carry out due diligence when searching for background information on behalf of their clients. Confirming facts and evaluating prior cases is a time-consuming process that can be improved using AI software like Luminance

By combining supervised and unsupervised machine learning, Luminance Diligence thoroughly analyses documents and flags up any risks that require attention. The software provides lawyers with peace of mind that no information has been missed or overlooked during review.

Predicting legal outcomes

Legal analytics software like Lex Machina is being used by law firms to predict the outcome of cases. When clients ask whether they should go to trial or settle, law firms can make more informed decisions based on analytical predictions.

By evaluating historic case data, legal analytics software can predict a likely outcome for future cases of a similar nature. By gathering information on the appearances of lawyers, judges and law firms, similar cases can be compared and a likely outcome is produced based on specific variables. According to tech company Blue J, their legal prediction platform makes predictions that are 90% accurate.

Improving billing utilisation rates

At WiseTime, we were recently granted a patent in the US for our unique timeline algorithm. Our innovative software also uses AI to help law firms improve their internal processes and it’s the first of its kind in the legal sector.

Unlike generic start-stop time tracking tools, WiseTime works in the background to autonomously record a lawyer’s activity throughout the day, which provides both individual users and law firms at large with useful insights that can be used to improve overall productivity. WiseTime's latest feature, Suggested Tagging, uses machine learning to suggest relevant tags for a lawyer’s time entries. Over time, the algorithm becomes smarter and assists users by suggesting tags automatically that reflect the work being carried out.

The result is twofold — with no interruption to their workflow, lawyers are provided with accurate timesheets in realtime, that are 100% private to them; and, aided by AI suggestions that speed up the process even further, they can send their time directly to the relevant case in their connected system, ready for billing.

Ultimately, the data generated and submitted by WiseTime can help law firms spot trends in their finances, use these insights to improve billing utilisation rates, and implement or adopt new processes that allow lawyers to work more effectively. 

If you’d like a free demo of Wise Time’s autonomous time tracking software, sign up here.