How do we describe law? It’s complex, isn’t it, just like how algorithms work? There are a set of laws, regulations, and rules on one side and cases that need to be solved on the other. The lawyers and judges work within a framework using a process similar to how computer programming or machine learning algorithms work behind the scenes. Of course, the law cannot be that easily categorized into algorithms, but ML algorithms sure can be used to help implement the law and deliver justice.
Before we talk about artificial intelligence in law firms, let’s first see what a law firm is and how it functions. A law firm is an association or a team of lawyers working together as a business entity and providing legal services to the public.
The lawyers of the firm share their clients and profits, depending on their schedule, expertise, and seniority. Law firms follow a hierarchy where the main partners or shareholders sit on the top tier. The senior associates follow next, with the junior lawyers working under senior lawyers and learning from them.
A law firm can be organized in several ways, based on where the practice is located. They can follow any of the below arrangements-
Law firms also hire paralegals from time to time if required for the case. A firm can have both individuals and corporations as its clients. The primary step is to understand the client’s case, explain legal rights, responsibilities, and advise them on the best way forward.
The firm can accept civil and/ or criminal cases, cases that deal with financial transactions, business complications, or any other areas of law.
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Law is classified into several finer categories, each dealing with a specific aspect of society/ life. A lawyer usually chooses an area of expertise and specialization, which helps them take up cases specific to the category and help their clients.
An animal rights lawyer can save and protect the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves. Fighting against animal cruelty, getting better facilities for animal care shelters, and exposing animal abusers are some responsibilities of an animal rights lawyer. The lawyer takes up cases to protect domestic and wild animals.
This is a new area of expertise, thanks to the increasing popularity of Bitcoin and several other altcoins and digital currency. Though there aren’t many lawyers who specialize in this area, the field is set to grow and create many opportunities for upcoming lawyers looking for a new and profitable area of law.
Civil rights are basic human rights every human being in this world is entitled to. Being a civil rights lawyer is a crucial responsibility. Even though many civil rights lawyers work for nonprofit organizations, they also take up other cases of interest, especially when human rights are being violated.
Complex litigation cases are difficult to handle and can go on and on for years. Civil and corporate cases with their stakes high and involving some noted individuals or entities are dealt with by complex litigation lawyers. It’s a serious area of law that demands everything from the lawyer.
Corporate law deals with the everyday practices of a business and its other complex affairs. Corporate law enters the scene at the very beginning, right where the business is initially being set up.
Compliance, contracts, policies, rules, and regulations, etc., come under this area of law. Corporate lawyers also take care of business liabilities and bankruptcy.
A criminal lawyer can choose to be a defense lawyer or a prosecutor, or sometimes both. The role and priorities of the lawyer change based on whether they are defending the client or prosecuting an accused. However, the primary role of a criminal lawyer is to protect the basic rights of the client. Criminal lawyers deal with clients from all sections of society.
Lawyers who practice environmental law will see more demand as the fight against climate change gets serious. Setting up new regulations, amending existing laws, etc., help protect the environment. The lawyer plays a vital role in promoting these laws and helping individuals/ businesses understand the environmental laws and how these can impact their business.
Family law deals with family-related aspects, be it good or bad. From divorce to inheritance disputes to adoption and child care, it encompasses an array of elements. A lawyer who practices family law has to deal with the emotional aspects of the case as well as the financial and social factors.
The healthcare law deals with the healthcare sector. It includes-
The healthcare lawyer works with hospitals, medical centers, doctors, and insurance providers to advise them about their legal obligations and rights.
Immigration laws protect immigrants and refugees from being subject to abuse/ neglect/ racism in the country they are taking shelter in. Immigration lawyers are currently in demand as (illegal) immigration, deportation, etc., are the most discussed topics. An immigration lawyer can help families get the justice they deserve in another country.
Intellectual property theft is becoming quite common in recent times, and the demand for IP lawyers has gone up. Intellectual property law protects ideas, concepts, theories, formulations, equations, designs, etc., from being duplicated and stolen by others. Copyrights, trademarks, patents, and other such applications are filed to protect intellectual property.
Labor law deals with the rights of a laborer, worker, or employee of an enterprise. Lawyers who specialize in labor law are almost always in demand because of the varied nature of atrocities faced by employees. From hazardous working environments to sexual harassment and racism (among other things), the lawyer works with clients from the entry-level to top positions in an organization.
This area of law includes IP (intellectual property) laws, royalty disputes, ownership rights, contacts between different parties involved in the project, etc. The ‘entertainment’ part covers television and film rights, etc. A lawyer specializing in this area has to regularly deal with big names in the market and work with them or against them. It pays well but involves a bit of risk, just like criminal law and complex litigation law.
It’s essential to protect our senior citizens and ensure that their rights are not snatched away. Elder law helps senior citizens register the Will, plan their estates and inheritance, provide guardianship rights, insurance claims, and so on.
The tax laws are yet another area with complexities and ever-changing rules. A tax lawyer deals with audits, IRS, estate planning for the rich, and other relevant aspects. Tax laws are also known as revenue laws and deal with areas where tax revenue is generated or levied. Tax laws are applicable for individuals, entities, and corporations.
This isn’t an area of law where the lawyer takes up cases. Instead, it’s where the lawyer becomes a teacher to train students in law. A law professor is highly reputed for nurturing another generation of lawyers to help society.
Till now, we’ve seen the law in general and in detail. It’s time to know how artificial intelligence will affect legal practice and how AI can help law firms and clients find better solutions to the cases.
However, the legal industry has always been traditional, and digitalization hasn’t entered this field until recently. It does seem surprising because the legal format and AI are conducive to each other. The algorithms work the same way as a case is examined- data collection, analysis, comparison to previous cases, and judgment/ result.
Even though the law is a lot more complicated, it is still very much possible to use AI for law, at least in certain areas of law. This helps automate the initial processes and hasten the proceedings.
If AI can speed up the legal process and increase the chances of delivering justice, wouldn’t it do a great service to mankind? Currently, AI and NLP have a small yet growing presence in the following laws.
The business world and corporate law cannot be separated from each other. There would be havoc without a law to establish the guidelines and ensure that business owners follow the same. Artificial intelligence can be used in corporate law to take care of the following aspects-
Contracts are everywhere in business and are considered the lifeline of the industry. How else can we be assured that the other party will stay true to the promise?
But contracts are lengthy, complicated, and even messy. Writing a contract, negotiating the terms, identifying the traps in artfully structured sentences, etc., takes a lot of time and energy. The lawyers have to read every sentence and analyze the contract thoroughly before their clients sign the dotted line.
Artificial intelligence in law will help automate this process of reviewing contracts, thus saving time for the lawyers and the clients. NLP technology is used to read the contents and highlight the sections likely to cause trouble for either party.
The process hardly ends after the contract is signed. In fact, it’s the beginning of everything that’s to come. A small business may not have too many contracts to track, but the same cannot be said for a large organization. Staying up-to-date and ensuring all the terms in all the contracts are adhered to often leads to contradictions and confusion.
The complex legal jargon doesn’t help either. However, by using AI and NLP, the contracts can be analyzed to list out the key elements in a simple language that everyone in the enterprise understands.
If AI services can help businesses understand the probability of their winning, it would surely save them several resources, isn’t it? That’s exactly what a few AI expert teams are working on. They are building machine learning models to compare a case to previous ones and predict the result.
Once the models become more accurate at predicting the outcome, enterprises can find a way to settle the issue out of the courts, get the case moved to fast-track, or prevent it from even going to the trial.
In India, we have two active platforms offering AI-based litigation prediction and legal research services to businesses and individuals.
The first is Indian Kanoon, a free platform (with premium paid services) to help break down complex laws and tie them up with judgments delivered using the respective laws. This helps even the common people understand and predict the possible outcome for their cases.
The Indian Kanoon API documentation is available for free on their website with a detailed set of instructions. From access point details to the process of generating the private-public key, and API code with parameter definitions, you can easily add the API to your existing systems and access the large database offered by Indian Kanoon.
Legal research is the lengthy process where mostly junior lawyers go to the courts and search through the archives for case-relevant information and past judgments. By using NLP’s semantic approach to understanding the content, this process can be simplified and completed in less time with greater accuracy.
SCC Online® is a paid platform developed by Eastern Book Company. The Web Editions of the software are available from 2009 and have around 4 million documents from 20+ countries around the world.
The legal research tool speeds up the process of searching through the never-ending indexes and finding the relevant information. It has been designed to help even those who have very little knowledge about the legal terminology and the intricacies of the law.
SCC Online is updated daily and has several noteworthy features, such as the user-friendly dashboard, digest note database, Trueprint™ technology to print the relevant documents easily, and many more. Moreover, the software can be used on the web (Windows, Linux, and Mac) and mobile phones (iOS and Android).
The software has a free trial option and three price plans to suit varying requirements. Individuals, law firms, and institutions can use SCC Online to bring AI into legal research, and this is how AI is often used in law firms to provide clients with enhanced services.
AI can help in assessing a crime and streamlining the operations of the criminal justice systems. Whether it is automating recurring tasks to reduce the backlog cases or re-understanding what accountability, transparency, grounds for judgment actually mean in a criminal case, artificial intelligence is bringing changes across various levels.
Image and video analytics are used to identify the person, location, object, or the occurrence of crime that acts as evidence in criminal investigations. However, collecting such information and processing is a labor-intensive task. Imagine having to watch 24-hour CCTV footage to determine if it’ll even help further the case or not. This also requires a major investment in personnel who are trained for the job.
AI analyzes blocks of text to gather opinions, feelings, beliefs, and the general attitude related to the context.
Crime is now being seen as more than an occurrence of an incident. Geospatial modeling is a predictive model that forecasts the concentration of crime in a region or location using CompStat. CompStat is derived from Computer Statistics or Comparative Statistics. The regions are labeled hotspots using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the crime that occurs in and around the area.
This helps develop a multi-layered approach to crime management through effective policing and optimization of resources available to the police departments. It is said to help create a comprehensive police management philosophy and works as an HR tool. Conducting weekly meetings, discussing the cases, helping rookie cops fit into the existing teams, etc., are a part of the process.
What are entities in case reports? The parties involved, the lawyers, the court ministers, the judge, the act/ crime, relevant information of similar cases, etc., can be called entities of the case. AI is used to analyze this data to label it based on the nature of crime, date, location, the procedural stage, gender, and other such labels, which can be used as search parameters.
The IP (Intellectual Property) departments of a business are responsible for protecting research and managing the assets of the company, while making valuable decisions about intellectual property rights, filing patents, and many more vital tasks.
The inclusion of artificial intelligence in the IP department has led to a certain disruption of the process, but for the better. Searching for existing patents and copyrights, streamlining the research information to protect it, etc., are being automated using AI technology.
One of the jobs of the IP department is to submit details for patent-related searches and inventions of the R&D department. Artificial intelligence radicalizes this searching process using machine learning, natural language processing, and semantic analysis. The inventions are submitted to the AI engine for processing and generating novelty and visualization reports.
Novelty Reports show the proof of overlapping of elements with existing art and novels.
Visualization provides competitor protection in the technology the business is interested in.
Filing patents is now becoming more targeted and focused, with only the completed set of patent applications being forwarded for approval. By using AI, the process of shortlisting eligible applications has been shortened in real-time.
Invalidity search has never been this easier before. AI and NLP technology are used to understand the context of the text and match the similarities or differences between various documents. This has led to a 60% reduction in the time taken for invalidity search.
Identifying key patents is easy using artificial intelligence. Simply set the parameters for the search and automate the process. Since AI can mimic the behavior of an expert who runs these searches, it’ll provide the requested data by comparing the patent information with the existing market and competitor’s data.
Can AI make a difference in analyzing immigration and helping better the laws to protect the immigrants around the world?
AI in law is also used for international migration management. The advanced technology helps predict the next migration crisis by analyzing the information and identifying patterns in the global movement of people. AI will deliver more precise and accurate results, according to Nyoni, 2017 and Carammia and Dumont, 2018.
Google Trends, big data, Wi-Fi positioning, etc., are the sources of information for this analytics, said Alessandrini & others, 2017 Dijstelbloem, 2017 and Connor, 2017. However, the results of using AI for migration management will be twofold and interesting to watch.
AI and law come together to protect human rights while ensuring that the crimes are not sidelined or ignored.
Satellite data is analyzed to detect visual signs of human rights abuse in ongoing/ emerging cases and during environmental destruction.
The process of monitoring human rights, looking for instances or cases of human rights abuse, documenting it, and developing a case is a highly labor-intensive and time-consuming process. It is also emotionally draining and exhausts the researcher. Moreover, the availability of information on the internet has further widened the gap between data and analytics.
With countless articles, news snippets, posts, tweets, and so on, how can humans continue to collect and process it all in real-time? How can they identify the cases of human rights abuse before it’s too late? Not to mention, separating fake news from real news, filtering sarcastic posts, identifying trolls, etc., are additional aspects to consider.
The only way to effectively complete the task and fight for justice is by using tools that aid in simplifying and automating the process of data collection, data cleaning, data labeling, and analytics.
Artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing analyze online text to determine the meaning, the context, and the hidden intent behind the words. AI technology is used to scan huge amounts of data in real-time and get valuable information from analytics.
Facial recognition can validate a person’s identity, identify a criminal or an accused, and provide valuable data for analytics to businesses. However, facial recognition is also a violation of privacy. Microsoft highlighted the issue and emphasized the need for better regulations and laws. The company went on to adopt six principles to protect human rights even when using facial recognition software. The principles include transparency, notice, accountability, consent, fairness, and non-discrimination.
The following artificial intelligence consulting companies are developing applications to help effectively use AI in law.
There’s one question many lawyers ask. Can Artificial Intelligence replace lawyers?
No, AI cannot replace lawyers or deliver judgments. Artificial intelligence can help lawyers automate time-consuming tasks, and AI can create robots that work as per the lawyer’s instructions. However, the complexity of the law is such that it cannot be fully handed over to a machine algorithm. Law firms will use AI to provide better services to their clients and speed up the trial. As the AI systems get more precise and accurate, the quality of judgment will increase and result in a better society.