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Artificial Intelligence, the future of lawyering

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Added 22nd June 2018 12:31 PM

As the population’s dependence on technology deepens, developers have gone into overdrive, inventing tools and applications that feed the technology addiction.

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As the population’s dependence on technology deepens, developers have gone into overdrive, inventing tools and applications that feed the technology addiction.

LAW
 
Kenneth Muhangi
 
KAMPALA - Technology has developed exponentially since the Internet was first introduced in Uganda.
 
As the young and old embrace advancements in various spheres of life, terms like Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have crept into everyday conversations.
 
As the population’s dependence on technology deepens, developers have gone into overdrive, inventing tools and applications that feed the technology addiction.
 
The appeal lies in the simplification of previously complex tasks and this in turn, saves time. Since more time is spent on performing a task in most professions equals more money, technology that saves time also saves money.
 
The legal profession is one such industry where billing is assessed based on time spent on an assigned task.
 
Consequently, developments like AI, should worry the ordinary brick and mortar lawyer who earns his/her keep from protracting client instructions.
 
AI or Artificial Intelligence, Is technology that mimics human behavior.
 
AI uses machine learning, where a computer program constantly perfects performing an assigned task by processing massive amounts of data and then identifying and analyzing new data more easily.
 
AI is faster, more efficient and more accurate at performing tasks than an ordinary human.
 
For example, Apple’s AI virtual assistant, Siri can respond to emails, and won’t forget to remind you about a scheduled appointment.  
 
For legal tasks, AI has been designed to learn how a lawyer drafts a contract or prepares pleadings. It then adapts, replicates and automates the process.
 
So, if it takes 2 hours for a lawyer to prepare a land sale agreement, AI will do it in half the time, more efficiently and at a cheaper rate.
 
It doesn't help that most AI is designed to make the user experience as much like interacting with a human as possible. 
 
In a recent study conducted by LawGeex, a leading AI contract review platform, it was revealed that AI was 94% more accurate at reviewing non-disclosure agreements than 84% for a human.
 
This is because AI will not get tired and miss crucial information like a human lawyer would.
 
As Charles Seife, writes in his book, Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, numbers never lie.
 
It is clear that the lawyer of tomorrow has to adapt in order to remain relevant.
 
Luckily, adapting in this case does not mean competing with AI-which would be a futile effort, but rather embracing its possibilities.
 
Law firms like Baker McKenzie in the United Kingdom, Ashurst in Australia & KTA in Uganda, are incorporating AI into their service offering. KTA, for example has developed AI that prepares routine agreements and complex agreements.
 
JPMorgan, is using software called Contract Intelligence, or COIN, which can in seconds perform document review tasks that took associates 360,000 hours.
 
AI-powered document discovery tools that can be trained to peruse documents and cases will reduce the time a lawyer needs to prepare for a case.
 
By using natural language processing, AI programs can search, identify and process required/relevant data from hundreds of documents almost instantly compared with the hours or days it may take a human lawyer.
 
AI can help firms work smarter by freeing up time that would otherwise be spent going over stacks and stacks of legal documents. This time can be channeled to working on building firm culture and strategy.  
 
For litigation, AI software can be used to aptly prepare for a case. Litigation juggernauts can use AI to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case based on precedents.
 
On the flipside, AI may reduce the quality of training for young lawyers as firms rely on AI to do research that would ordinarily be done by trainee lawyers.
 
It is also very tedious to train AI to perform the tasks it is created to operate. AI, learns like a child and needs to soak up volumes of data in order to achieve optimum efficiency. For lawyers in Uganda, where most of the practice areas are still considered as emerging, using AI to efficiently review or prepare a specialized contract may be difficult to achieve.
 
As it is, although it will be a while until technology like AI is fully adopted, it is clear that lawyers may yet have to adapt or be disrupted.
 
 
The writer is Partner- Technology, Media, Telecommunications, Intellectual Property KTA Advocates
 
 
 
 

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