The future of the legal industry is digital. What are some trends and predictions in legal tech, and how can law firms apply AI in their businesses today? Here are three ways to cover the bases and beyond, starting with knowledge.
The world is moving towards digital, what’s predicted for legal?
‘Risk averse’ and ‘tightly regulated’ are some notorious names closely associated to the legal and compliance industry. Even with most other sectors rapidly digitalising, it’s still no surprise to see legal departments relying on manual effort to get work done. The human touch provides a layer of insurance with time and effort as seemingly worthy compromises.
At the same time, Gartner reports that nearly half of legal teams (49%) recognise that technology solutions and level of adoption as a top weakness. A 2018 LawSoc survey published by Singapore’s Ministry of Law corroborates that 70% agreed that there was a need to increase the level of legal tech adoption in their firms.
of legal teams recognise technology solutions and level of adoption as a top weakness.
agree that they need to increase the level of legal tech adoption in their firms
Customers are demanding for always on legal services
Many trends are changing the state of legal and technology. An ‘always on culture’ is pushing the industry to deliver faster. Direct consumers are expecting legal services to be delivered on demand—a trend attributed to major tech players alongside a global pandemic that has forced us to prioritise the online space.
The growth in customer demand and expectations in industries beyond legal also have spillovers back into the sector. The surging reliance on technology-based tools from remote collaboration tools to e-commerce calls for regulations to be in place. Small to medium business are changing their policies as they continue to adjust to new normal. The growing customer demand also includes enacting state-level legislation that provides for measures in times of the pandemic and other emergencies.
As a whole, the legal industry has a huge opportunity to capitalise on changing consumer trends to offer novel legal services.
Lawyers have too much information and too little time
In turn, workload for lawyers is piling up. Every year globally, millions of documents pass through the hands of lawyers to build cases for their clients. Challenging documents, to be specific, which are highly variable and full of unstructured data, like free text within contracts and agreements. And this only grows over time.
According to the Future Ready Lawyer’s Survey which interviewed 700 lawyers across the world, over 72% struggle with the increasing volume and complexity of document processing and want to focus on efficiency and productivity.
The legal business is on the brink of information overload
Costly operations are costing opportunities
Multiple functions within a law firm require high volumes of information access. More often than not, these functions are mechanical and repetitive, requiring lawyers to go back and forth in searching, asking and validating information. It’s time that could be better spent with their clients or building cases.
Manually executing mechanical tasks imposes a frightening scalability ceiling. Legal departments are confined to serve customers within their abilities, limiting transaction rates as a business. Each employee working on such tasks adds on to the headcount, which translates to high running costs problems with scalability over time.
Thankfully, tech is booming
Primitive legal processes are primed for transformation, and even more with the emerging technologies rapidly arising. Technologies are becoming more robust to deliver solutions that address complex needs of the legal industry.
In-house technology and operations teams are expanding instead of legal counsel and attorneys. A myriad of vendors working on legal tech are being considered, offering customised packaged-based and platform-based solutions. Legal technologies like AI and Machine Learning, automation and analytics are growing in both demand and supply.
AI based solutions are capable of driving value even in highly complex operations typically reliant on humans to execute, such as to extract data from legal contracts. Intelligent document processing and knowledge discovery engines are some examples, which you can learn more about in this ebook here.
Unlock accelerated compliance
and administrative operations
for the legal industry
So, the answer is that the legal industry is indeed moving digital. Even though overall legal department budgets are at a standstill in this pandemic stricken climate, technology budgets are allocated a rapidly increasing percentage of it. According to Gartner’s 2021 predictions for Legal, the industry is going to be moving more quickly than other sectors in the next 5 years.
But legal tech can be both hope and hype
Investing in legal tech tools is a high-involvement decision. Strategic plans must match capable vendors and effective technologies. Law firms need to successfully sieve through the tech market which is crawling with hype. Overexcitement in consumer demand and investor support can cloud the real efficacy of technology when in production. A calibrated approach to assess technologies is critical to avoid seeing premature returns.
Legal tech tools like need to be carefully planned as part of a larger strategy that considers all stakeholders in the picture. Procurement departments must evaluate delivery complexity weighed against their potential impact, scalability in the long run, user acceptance and a multitude of other factors.
In evaluating legal tech, knowledge is the starting point
The best solutions need to achieve more with less. From our perspective, these are solutions that can deal with the basics of any and every operation—knowledge.
Knowledge could be in the form data lakes, memory cards, paper, customer feedback, workplace meetings, or simply an individual’s mind.
This problem is that these are all pockets of data without consistent structure or form.They’re unstructured data, which make up about 80% of the data we face every day. They’re a challenge to automate, but such intellectual capital is the foundation that make things work.
But finding innovative legal tech solutions that can effectively manage knowledge is critical, not only to achieve favourable ROI margins but as a necessary foundation in any digitalisation journey.
Of all technologies, AI one such tool that’s essential tool to make knowledge work. By mimicking how humans think, to be able to effectively perform cognitive yet mechanical tasks which are so often seen in knowledge-intensive operations.
To better conceptualise the how, here’s a brief guide three ways law firms can consider applying artificial intelligence in their business today for better knowledge management.
Three ways to apply AI in the legal industry to make knowledge work
Three ways to apply artificial intelligence in the legal industry
1. A legally-trained search engine to sift across various knowledge bases
Documents sit across domains, in emails, on platforms like SharePoint and in data servers. Whether performing research for a litigation case, or locating the right precedent for a corporate matter, hunting for the right set of documents is a time-consuming exercise, especially for the uninitiated.
This is where an enterprise search engine built using artificial intelligence can help to do the heavy lifting.
Such search engines successfully integrate different knowledge bases commonly used in legal operations. Training the search engine with the use of an ontology, set in the legal domain, allows documents to be automatically tagged as well. This dramatically cuts shorts the time spent to organise content within the search engine index.
With all the backend configurations in place, all that’s left is to provide a user-friendly search interface. Users can conduct search queries to find anything. Adding semantic capabilities through the AI subfield of natural language understanding can further improve search engine performance. It allows users to search using vague queries in human language, so time-crunched lawyers need not waste time repeatedly trying out new keywords to get the right search answer. This allows them to hone in on the right set of documents or data faster and higher accuracy.
Useful views like domain filters, document relationship maps and owners’ contacts also provide lawyers with proper context and expedite the decision making process.
2. An 'AI paralegal' to extract and translate information accurately
Processing documents is highly labour and cost intensive because of the technical complexity of practicing law. Information found in legal data sources like documents are difficult to break down, and highly variable. A multitude of various document types are involved in a single legal operation.
Finding pieces of information would often mean flipping through pages and scanning chunks of text, much like finding a needle in a haystack. Cross-checking whether their references are accurate would also be completely manual, often resulting in some margin of error.
Fortunately, training artificial intelligence to process data can dramatically reduce the manpower time and cost. In the example below, we can see how an intelligent document processing tool automatically identifies, extracts and validates the required data points. This will allow lawyers to have more time for more value-added work, such as more client-facing opportunities and time to build their cases.
3. A law-smart virtual assistant as the interface for global collaboration or 24/7 client service
Today’s knowledge driven companies like banks and hotels use chatbots on a daily basis to serve their customers, or streamline internal communication. The trend is sweeping across industries, and the legal sector is no exception.
At the same time, virtual assistants are smarter than ever before. Intelligent use of conversational AI allow them to provide not only information but recommendations on a course of action based on understanding the conversation it just had.
With knowledge stored in cloud, lawyers can participate in a multi-chat via a ‘Lawbot’ to access information and collaborate anytime, anywhere in the world. This creates organisational scalability critical for global law firms.
The virtual assistant can also interact with clients, answering common general legal queries that don’t involve a specific factual matrix. They can become always on brand ambassadors by weaving in elements of chatbot ‘personality’, executed through a blend of technologies.
Preparing for the AI future in the legal sector
The world of law is changing. Lawyers are no longer just relying on their legal knowledge, but also on the technological tools that provide them with unprecedented access to information. In rethinking how lawyers search and process information through technology, law firms today can create a more collaborative and productive practice that will better poise their firms for success.
Ready to get started with a future-proof AI strategy for the legal industry? See our legal tech solutions powered by the Omnitive AI suite or speak with us today.
Unlock accelerated compliance
and administrative operations
for the legal industry