Using artificial intelligence in the legal profession can aid lawyers in completing menial tasks with accuracy, which is in line with the Law Society of Ontario’s mandate for lawyers to practise more efficiently and cost effectively, attendees at the Ontario Bar Association’s annual Institute heard this week.
“We have a duty to be competent and the law society rules go into quite a lot of detail [on] what that means,” said James Kosa, an intellectual property and information technology lawyer at Deeth Williams Wall LLP, one of two speakers on a panel called “Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Profession,” held during the OBA's Institute meeting in Toronto.
Kosa believes if lawyers are not relying on certain types of AI software to help with legal research, they’re not doing their job as efficiently as possible because of the numerous benefits the technology serves in increasing accuracy, precision and speed of compiling data.
AI has four main components, said Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence. With machine learning, speech recognition, vision recognition and language processing, along with modern computing power, machines are now able to process large sums of data needed to train system algorithms to learn and improve over time. This means that, like people, machines will become more accurate and more efficient as they’re fed more data.
“I’m going to [want to] layer my intelligence with my focus on top of [the AI] to bring us to the next level,” said Kosa, who shared how AI has the power to finesse legal thought and reasoning for lawyers to do their jobs better.
Using AI also helps remove the possibility for human error in menial work.
“We have a duty to be competent, and the law society rules go into quite a lot of detail [on] what that means,” he said.
Lawyers often get “bored” when they’re doing routine, repetitive work, which is when negligent acts are more likely to occur because they’re less likely to be paying attention, he said. These are typically the tasks, such as document review within factums or legal briefs, for instance, that AI tackles, reducing room for error.
Also, by using AI technology to assist with tasks such as legal research and substantive law and procedure, lawyers could spend less time doing these repetitive, “boring” tasks and more time on analysis of data.
Innovations such as EVA, a tool created by ROSS Intelligence and available for free, is an example that illustrates how using AI to supplement legal work contains a variety of benefits. Arruda said that, when entering case data into EVA, lawyers just drag and drop a document (such as a factum) into a box, and once the AI processes the data, it generates key information from the document at a glance.
“While we do get a bad reputation in the law that we’re slow adopters, what we’re seeing now with artificial intelligence is that we are among the first folks to move into it because it makes a lot of sense for our business model and this is about the practical use of this,” said Arruda.
With these sorts of tools available and with clients demanding more on a leaner budget, lawyers could now concentrate on other areas of a case versus taking up time doing tasks for which a client doesn’t want to pay. This results in maximizing time doing actual legal work and tasks that involve deliberation, exercising judgment and a high intellectual capacity — jobs AI just can’t do.
Arruda said this could open up an untapped market of people who couldn’t previously afford to see a lawyer, bringing in more business to a law firm and furthering access to justice in the process. There is more time to build on the basic data with enhanced, creative thinking too, he said.
“All that being said, [AI] is just a tool and it doesn’t replace the core legal function, which is the exercise of judgment,” said Kosa. “You still have to do your job and be careful about it.”