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Use Of Innovative Technology In Law

The modern technology is here to help lawyers in multiple ways. However, for technology to be able to become an important part of lawyer’s arsenal, it is imperative that lawyers continue to improve themselves and keep pace with the latest technological developments

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In 1950 Alan Turing in his paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’[1] introduced a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligent behaviour similar to that of a human. The paper poses a question 'Can machines think?’ Can machines perform the same functions what we humans can do? The answer in the present world seems to be a big YES. The modern technology, specially the field of artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible for machines to comprehend and analyze huge amounts of data, identify patterns and make human-like decisions.

Until a few years ago, usage of technology in the legal field was limited to legal research, however, the last few years have witnessed the legal community engaging with technology in many different ways. Technology has the potential to impact various aspects of the legal field, from document review to contract drafting to dispute resolution mechanism. Let’s look at 5 key areas where technology can benefit lawyers:  

Document Review

One of the grandfathers of AI, Gottfried Leibniz, who was also a lawyer, had said that it is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labor of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used. Modern technology can save precious hours of lawyers by automating the process of document review in a due diligence. The AI tools can quickly review the document, analyze key clauses like change of control, assignment, event of default, termination etc, identify risks and generate reports, similar to the legal due diligence reports which a law firm would produce by deploying a bunch of lawyers.

In a study conducted last year by LawGeex[2], performance of 20 experienced United States lawyers was compared to LawGeek AI systems. The study asked each lawyer to review five non-disclosure agreements in four hours and to identify relevant issues. The AI platform achieved a 94% accuracy rate as compared to an average of 85% for the experienced lawyers. While the average time taken by lawyers was 92 minutes, the AI completed this task in astonishing 26 seconds.

Contract and Case Management

Electronic contracts and case management software have also revolutionized how documents and litigations can be handled by law firms and in-house legal teams. Companies can now store voluminous contracts electronically and employ technology to analyze, organize, track and archive documents in a fraction of time than what humans would take. Technology can also set alerts in advance of key dates in a contract, for example - when the term of a contract is coming to an end, when the contract is due for renewal or periodic payment dates. These alerts assist the business teams to take pro-active actions to manage a contract. In the absence of any such technology, the business team would have to track these manually, which would be a waste of many man-hours. There are a few technology providers which helps lawyers organize litigation cases by generating personalized daily case list and set alerts for future hearing dates, listing of cases etc.

Similar to managing contracts, high volume of litigation papers can also be stored digitally in online review bundles (ORB) platforms. ORB is an electronic platform which allows sharing of documents online which can be accessed by the parties, their lawyers and the arbitral tribunal. All the relevant documents in relation to the proceedings, for eg written submissions, documentary evidences etc. can be uploaded on the platform and accessed by all concerned parties. This saves substantial cost and time, especially in a multi-party arbitration.

Drafting Documents

Document automation software allow lawyers to avoid re-inventing the wheel by generating standard legal documents on the basis of certain inputs that the lawyers are required to feed. Such software can reduce delays, costs and risks and helps the lawyers to focus their time on more complex legal issues. Such software also ensures that all the documents of a company have consistent boilerplate clauses and have the same ‘look and feel’ in terms of formats and styles.

Predicting Legal Outcomes

Lawyers are often asked this question by their client ‘Will I win this case?’. AI tools can analyze large volume of data in quick time, compare a particular case with similar cases, analyze various factors (including tendency of an arbitrator / judge to rule in favour of claimants in similar fact patterns, quantum of punishment or damages awarded) and help lawyers predict the outcome of a case. When it comes to predicting case outcomes, Harvard Law reports that, “because AI can access more of the relevant data, it can be better than lawyers at predicting the outcomes of legal disputes and proceedings, and thus helping clients make decisions. For example, a London law firm used data on the outcomes of 600 cases over 12 months to create a model for the viability of personal injury cases.”[3] As the law is based on predictability and precedent, AI on the basis of knowledge of vast data is better than human experts in predicting results. 

Online Dispute Resolution

With the increased role of internet in communication and business, new dispute resolution mechanisms like online mediation, online arbitration, commonly known as online dispute resolution (ODR), are increasingly being used by companies, specially the e-commerce companies. eBay claims to resolve over 60 million disputes per year by ODR.

ODR can have hearings through audio-video conferencing. The entire process of dispute resolution is run online, ie case filing and acceptance, evidence exchange, court hearings, service of judgments, pronouncement of decision, payment of damages etc can be conducted through the online platform. This mechanism has the benefits of lower costs, lesser time and greater procedural flexibility.

The Singapore State Courts’ Community Justice and Tribunals System now requires all small claims to be filed electronically, which saves time and money for the litigants as they no longer need to go to courts to fight their cases. Similarly, China has also initiated fully online ‘cyberspace court’ in Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Beijing to deal with internet related disputes like e-commerce disputes, online loan contract disputes, online copyright disputes etc.

Conclusion

The modern technology is here to help lawyers in multiple ways. However, for technology to be able to become an important part of lawyer’s arsenal, it is imperative that lawyers continue to improve themselves and keep pace with the latest technological developments. Lawyers in the western countries have already started using these modern technologies in a big way, however, these technologies are used only by a handful of law firms / in-house firms in India. 

Lawyers should also note that some of the AI technologies are not ‘plug & play’, as a result, they need to carefully plan the deployment of AI platforms. Implementation of these technologies shall require collation of data, a streamlined implementation process and willingness of lawyers to embrace new technologies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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technology law and business

Kunal Mehta

The author Legal Counsel at JSW Steel Limited

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