Call it the rise of the robots. The legal profession continues to be transformed by the use of artificial intelligence in new and innovative ways. New developments in the past five years alone stagger the mind as what would have sounded like science fiction not along ago continues to become reality, making the lives of lawyers easier but also forcing them to change how they do business if they want to survive and succeed.
Rewind to 2013, and you find Jay Leib and Dan Roth—who launched Discovery Cracker way back in 2000 to streamline discovery and make it electronic and searchable—birthing their then-new creation, NexLP. For the past five years this company has used AI to analyze previously unstructured data and identify trends, using predictive coding to gauge, for example, the likely results of pending litigation based on past results.
Another entrepreneurial duo, Adam Nguyen and Ned Gannon, set into motion the Diligence Accelerator program from eBrevia to help lawyers handle the pressure from in-house counsel and other clients to cut costs. This AI-fueled software similarly extracts information from data as clients upload documents, search for information and download per their preferences. The program doesn’t just recognize words but notices common legal phrases and stores those in its “memory bank” for future use.
In 2015, Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, created an independent subsidiary called NextLaw Labs, which earned the firm distinction from The Financial Times as the most forward-thinking law firm of the year. The subsidiary’s advisory group picks through potentially disruptive ideas to find those most likely to succeed, among which has been Ross Intelligence, which uses IBM’s Watson cognitive computing to make reams of legal research instantly searchable via a request in plain English.
Another innovative law firm, Riverview Law in the United Kingdom, launched a virtual assistant called “Kim,” an acronym for knowledge, intelligence and meaning, which will use AI technology developed by the University of Liverpool and a U.S.-based data collection and management program called Clixlex, since renamed Kim Technologies.
And the U.K.-based Ravn Systems has used cognitive computing to build its Applied Cognitive Engine program, which also extracts information from data at high speed, pushing out the boundaries of what lawyers and law firms can accomplish in a short stretch of time. The company’s Contract Robot can do so with title deeds and other types of documents.
AI continues to blossom, and while many firms do not yet use it, the robots are clearly on the march. “You start with a number of documents and ask questions like what are the termination clauses,” Peter Wallqvist, CEO and co-founder of Ravn Systems, explained to the ABA Journal. “For example, there’s a telecommunications company that would tell us about documents they had to review. They told us how they had to go through 1,000 documents, which would take three people six months to complete. We can do that in a matter of days.”
As the Journal concluded, “That is the future. Maybe it’s not so scary after all.”