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10 Must Have AI Secret Weapons Lawyers Need Now

Cat Casey
June 21, 2024

10 min read

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In the last 18 months, the Legal profession has done an about-face when it comes to artificial intelligence and generative AI. What was once looked upon as a black box to be wary of now is often thought of as an easy button!

While AI may not entirely be an easy button, I am thrilled to see the sentiment of legal at large shifting from wariness to curious. In light of this industry wide shift in perception, I thought now would be a good time to dig into all the fantastic AI secret weapons lawyers can add to their arsenal today.

Some of the secret weapons have been battle-tested for well over a decade, while some are newer kids on the block. They all accelerate time to insight, supercharge you as a legal professional, and keep you squarely in the driver's seat of your legal career! Now is the time to embrace AI, and this cheeky little list covers areas you can start embracing today.

AI and Legal

The applications are myriad when it comes to how AI can help law firms and in-house legal departments. AI Systems are not limited to eDiscovery and can help you be more efficient in research, operations, and more. AI-powered tools help streamline decision-making, uncover patterns in data sets, and empower legal professionals. Some of the ways AI is being leveraged in legal include:

  • Algorithms and eDiscovery
  • AI Tools for Contract Analysis
  • AI and Knowledge Management
  • Practice Optimization or Automation with AI
  • Chatbots and Legal Research

Your (Not So) Secret Weapons

While the current belle of the ball for AI in 2024 is ChatGPT, the legal practice has been incorporating a slew of AI and machine learning-powered tools for over a decade. GPT may be the newest large language model to shake up legal AI, but it is far from the only AI-powered legal technology lawyers can leverage today.

AI Models

Whether applied to document review for eDiscovery data sets, legal research, or contract analytics, these AI models empower lawyers in finding key evidence and decision making alike. These models are not just tools. They are gamechangers that empower legal professionals to cut through the noise and focus on the signal. Enhancing precision in legal decision-making.

AI Model Library

Some AI-powered technologies consolidate a variety of AI models into a Netflix-like database. This library contains a variety of AI-driven models tailored to specific legal needs. Transforming raw data into actionable insights.

Whether parsing through complex datasets or analyzing contract semantics, these models bring efficiency and accuracy to the forefront of legal.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis helps you go beyond words and phrases to the meaning and feels behind the phrases. It is like having an emotional barometer for textual data. Breaking down the underlying sentiments in communications is invaluable in cases involving disputes, negotiations, or any scenario where understanding the tone and intent is crucial.

This helps lawyers uncover problematic behavior, harassment, and any other number of emotionally charged behavior patterns that might be relevant in a case, due diligence, or investigation.

Computer Vision

If artificial intelligence taught computers to think like humans, computer vision teaches them to “See” like humans. Helping legal professionals searching image and video-based data in depositions, body cam footage, and image-heavy reviews.

Computer Vision goes beyond words to 'see' and 'interpret' images and videos like humans. This means AI-powered analysis of surveillance footage, document scans, and other visual data. Streamlining evidence analysis and review processes by identifying relevant visual information quickly and accurately.

Machine Translation

Automatic machine translation is like having your very own babel fish like in the hitchhiker’s Guide. Rather than spending lots of money and time on manual translation, this can help a lawyer quickly uncover key information that may require human translation down the road.

With Machine Translation, language barriers crumble. This technology enables immediate, accurate translation of documents and communications in 100+ languages. It is essential for international litigation, compliance, and global business transactions.

Technology Assisted Review (TAR)/Continual Active Learning (CAL)

In eDiscovery when people think of A Iand machine learning, the most ubiquitous example is TAR/CAL. This reinforcement machine learning approach gains input and insight from human reviewers. "Learning" what data is relevant, prioritizing the most relevant data until there is none left.

This approach dramatically accelerates time to insight and reduces human review costs dramatically. TAR and CAL not only speed up the review process but also enhance the accuracy of the results, saving hours of manual labor and reducing human error.

Social Network Analysis

This secret weapon is not a new Facebook-like app. Rather, this machine learning uncovers communication patterns. Understanding which custodians are communicating with what frequency can allow for staged review or prioritizing most likely responsive communication first.

Whether tracking communication patterns in corporate litigation or identifying connections in fraud investigations, this tool helps lawyers visualize and analyze the web of interactions, providing a clear map of relational data.

Concept Clustering

Another OG when it comes to AI in Legal is concept clustering. Originally of Brainspace fame, this visualization organized a data set into conceptually similar groups. Allowing investigators or reviewers to quickly dig into most likely relevant concepts and cull out non relevant ones like Fantasy football or out of office messages.

Concept Clustering is useful in legal matters where documents number in the thousands, if not millions. Helping lawyers quickly understand thematic structures and locate relevant information without looking at every document. This not only streamlines the review process but also uncovers hidden connections and patterns that might go unnoticed with traditional review methods.

Generative Search & Summarization Capabilities

Some of the more cutting-edge technologies now are incorporating Large Language Models (like GPT) and generative capabilities like we see in DALLE, Chat GPT, and more. These Generative AI powered tools do not just uncover patterns in data, they generate net new content from it.

In a legal context, this can mean generating summaries from long documents, proposing legal arguments based on past cases, or drafting tentative legal language. It's about enhancing creative legal thinking with AI-driven suggestions. Companies from legacy behemoths like Lexis Nexis and Reuters to practice-focused solutions like Reveal in eDiscovery are coming out with increasingly robust Gen AI solutions.

Document Generation

In the same vein is Generative AI search synthesis above, some technologies are moving beyond pattern recognition to net new content creations. Document Generation automates the creation of legal documents, from standard contracts to complex legal briefs. This technology ensures consistency, compliance, and speed, allowing lawyers to focus more on strategy and less on the mechanics of document drafting.

AI and YOU

No matter your practice area, there are AI-powered solutions that can improve your speed to insight and optimize how you provide legal services. I recommend that each lawyer, law firm and corporate legal department ask themselves the following questions as they evaluate where on the spectrum of AI-tools they want to play.

  • What is our overall risk appetite
    • If on the lower end more legacy AI technology with a wealth of case law supporting it may be a good starting point.
  • What is my practice area, and how can AI help me specifically?
    • Dig deeper than the hype to think critically about the issues you need to solve and the time and money you must do it.
  • What problems do I need to solve
    • Understanding the type of problem you have (too much data, not enough insight, messy contracts, body cam. footage) will help determine which flavor of Ai is best for you.
  • What is my budget (people and cost)?
    • AI solutions come in varying cost points and require humans to support them. If you are on a shoestring with few resources, building a complex contract analytic solution may not be a great idea, but using self-serve eDiscovery AI could be a great idea.
  • Is there a knowledge gap?
    • Do you have tech savvy people to spearhead the effort, or will you need outsourced resources/ new hires? Understand the personal landscape to set yourself up for success.

Regardless of how you answer these questions, there is some sort of AI powered Legal Tech out there. AI can dramatically empower legal professionals throughout their legal work. Some Legal AI act almost like a super sentient legal assistant at your beck and call. Others are simpler in their approach. Regardless of how advanced your appetite for AI-powered legal Tech, the emerging technologies and the power of AI are reshaping the practice of law.

My advice? Start small, build on success, and stay curious as we all navigate the AI revolution together!

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