Most legal and compliance organisations struggle to justify worthy investments in AI that’s scalable in the long run. Technology architecture is a major culprit. Obtaining ‘tools in a toolbox’ through a modular core AI platform enables scalability, and from there, real business value.
AI today is full of buzz
There’s a fine line between solutions that “use AI” and solutions that use AI to drive real value. That’s the main struggle we see the legal and compliance industry facing today.
According to Gartner’s Legal Technology and Analytics Benchmarking Report as at 2018, 8% of corporate legal departments were already using AI to some degree, and that a further 47% of them are planning to take advantage of AI in the next three years. What’s interesting is that the respondents cited that the biggest obstacle in implementing AI in legal departments is justifying the investment.
What constitutes a worthy legal tech investment?
Healthy skepticism surrounds the applicability of AI in the legal landscape. Legal companies and departments aren’t just settling for solutions that contain some form of AI, but have many boxes to check off to ascertain if the solution will drive business value.
Worthy legal tech investments must tide through the main barriers of regulatory controls and technology acceptance among people. Solutions need to be easy to use and easy to modify in accordance with those highly dynamic factors.
More importantly, legal tech must be effectively applied across a wide scope. AI-based solutions are typically built within a strict scope in mind, using data or manually created rules. As such, they are limited to specific business contexts and may fail miserably when applied across others. The limits and cross-applicability of the solution are also difficult to anticipate. Companies may find themselves succumbing to heavy maintenance or signing new contracts to cover new scopes, driving costs up.
Scalable legal tech needs to start talking modular
In other words, worthy investments in AI need to be scalable. Scalable both in terms of the breadth of applications and long-term sustainability that withstands external and internal pressures. To keep up, companies need a more agile approach to devising their legal tech strategy—which is achieved with modularity.
The easiest way to explain modularity is to imagine a set of building blocks set on a core platform. Each block represents a module which delivers a specific set of capabilities. As needs change, the platform can be enhanced easily to add new modular features, block by block, on top of the initial platform.
Modularity is also ‘do it yourself’, like using tools in a toolbox
As you can see, an essential part in managing modular software is a ‘do it yourself’ or DIY element. Modularity isn’t as simple as buying piecemeal solutions off-the-shelf. Having the added functionality to control the core platform is critical to reap the full benefits of modularity.
To break this down better, it’s helpful to first distinguish AI in two closely related parts—core AI and ‘plug and play’ AI which we also talk about in our Omnitive for Legal solutions ebook.
Core AI is a platform that consists of a wide range of general AI applications that organisations can build and run.
Plug and play AI refers to ready-made solutions that can augment existing legal systems as piecemeal additions.
In our definition, think of an AI platform and its applications as tools in a toolbox. These tools give developers or even non-technical staff the autonomy and resources to create their own ‘plug and play’ AI. It’s as opposed to purchasing ‘plug and play’ solutions from external vendors, that require costly maintenance or additional steps to calibrate solutions to meet highly specified internal needs.
5 advantages of modular architecture in legal tech
Starting from a core AI platform is the first and the right step to ascertain scalability. This is particularly so considering the variability and complexity of use cases legal departments need to automate.
- Modular core AI platforms are more flexible and feasible.
- Modular core AI platforms can cover more scope.
- Modular core AI platforms can be easily changed to meet regulatory requirements.
- Modular core AI platforms empower anyone and everyone to be a driving force.
- Modular core AI platforms meets customer demands faster.
1. Modular core AI platforms are more flexible and feasible
The concept of flexibility is at the heart of what makes both legal tech and its value scalable. Modular core AI platforms make it easy and quick to add new features according to changing strategic priorities or market needs.
For example, to automate legal document handling, various tools like document classification to knowledge document search engines can be deployed through a platform.
Such modules can interact effectively with other parts of the core AI platform without the need for massive overhauls that incur cost and time. Modularity also allows organisations to upgrade and downgrade their systems without any downtime or service interruption. This flexibility has a ripple effect on all parts of the business, allowing it to grow without being constrained by rigid structures.
2. Modular core AI platforms can cover more scope
Traditional plug and play solutions require extensive customisation and set up by IT talents. For example, a single Machine Learning based intelligent document processing model can take a few months to develop, with frequent back-and-forth iterations between the buyer and vendor or IT team.
On the other hand, the ease of building new modules can cut short delivery cycles, allowing legal departments to scale solutions for different use cases at speed. This means more intra and cross-disciplinary AI adoption. Back to the example—with a core AI platform, users can duplicate the same intelligent document processing solution for an extensive range of legal document types, taking as little as a day to deliver each model.
3. Modular core AI platforms can be easily changed to meet
The legal landscape is subject to changing regulatory requirements that vary widely across geographies and over time. Legal tech housed on modular platforms allow for amendments to meet new requirements easily. Modules can adapt to new laws without the need for rewriting code or signing new contracts, unlike most other software solutions. This makes it easier and more cost-effective for companies to stay compliant with changing regulations and justify tech spends.
4. Modular core AI platforms empower anyone and everyone to be a driving force
Modern modular platforms, enabled with low to no code functionalities, activate the entire workforce to become effective problem solvers. Domain experts like lawyers, paralegals, attorneys, and all kinds of non-technical staff can drive business value from the grassroots. They can directly see their fruits of labour through productivity wins and digital enablement.
5. Modular core AI platforms meets customer demands faster
Customer bases and market demands are fast evolving and widely variable. Being able to swiftly meet changing stakeholder needs, or even stay ahead of the curve, hinge on the speed of tech delivery warranted with modularity.
Domain experts, who understand the legal business best, can also respond directly to any internal or external pressures they face. This skips the unnecessary detours needed to liaise with external solution providers to sign new contracts.
First get the foundations right, then scale
Building an effective legal tech strategy with AI starts with picking the right foundation. With one that gives end-users the autonomy and resources to build modular tools, scaling legal tech across the organisation can be much swifter and smoother, without extensive costs.
Modularity isn’t just a technical feature. It’s a driver of innovation on multiple fronts. It simplifies technology implementation and safeguards the scalability of tech stacks. At the same time, modularity meets dynamic regulatory, market, and strategic demands by being able to flexibly deliver products and services to consumers.