Artificial intelligence (AI) is spreading quickly in the legal world. Both in-house and outside counsel are finding new and innovative ways to capture the opportunities AI offers in terms of reducing cost and increasing quality. The adoption of AI is putting the legal marketplace on the cusp of a revolution, with in-house lawyers highly incentivized to lead the way. Much like email changed the way we do business every day, AI will soon become ubiquitous – an indispensable assistant to practically every legal professional. Those that do not adopt and embrace the change will get left behind in some manner. In addition to lowering costs, those that do embrace AI will ultimately find themselves freed up to concentrate on the two things there always seems to be too little time for: thinking and advising.
Welcome to the final article of this series on AI and in-house legal departments. In earlier articles, I discussed what AI is and its current and future application by legal departments. In our final installment, I will discuss some of the ethical dilemmas associated with AI and what you – as an in-house lawyer – should be doing next regarding AI.
What’s all the hubbub, bub?
As we saw in Part III of this series, there is a wide range of uses (and potential uses) for AI in the provisioning of legal services. While use for e-discovery is the most common and best understood, we are already seeing AI used for such things as contract drafting and management, detection and prevention of fraud and other improper employee behavior, for M&A due-diligence reviews, and for litigation analysis and prediction of results. All of these are powerful tools in the hands of in-house counsel, as they potentially solve two huge problems: 1) lack of budget and 2) lack of manpower. If the use of AI can provide less expensive legal services (either used internally or purchased through a law firm), the value is immediately apparent. If the use of AI can free up current staff from spending time on transactional tasks, the value (if not immediately apparent) is exponentially greater than merely paying less for legal services. Freeing up attorney time gives you and your business clients better access to better and more involved legal services (i.e., attorneys who can dedicate more time to thinking through problems and advising clients) and is a huge boost to morale as attorneys freed from drudge work will become more valuable generally and more satisfied with their jobs. The latter part of this equation cuts down on lawyer attrition. The combination of these benefits will allow in-house legal departments to actually deliver on the old CEO/CFO demand of “doing more with less.” Historically, this usually means everybody works harder and things get left on the side or get done in a less than ideal manner. AI opens up the possibility of actually increasing service while spending less money. If the promise of AI actually delivers, then there is truly reason for in-house counsel to welcome the arrival of AI in all its forms.
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1 “Lawyers Could be the Next Profession to be Replaced by Computers,” CNBC.com, posted February 17, 2017 (Dan Mangan)(quoting Noory Bechor, CEO of LawGeex, a leading AI-powered platform for contract review).
2 “Rise of the Machine: Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law,” ABA Litigation News, Winter 2017, Vol. 42 No. 2 (Daniel Wittenberg), page 27 (human involvement is still required to interpret data, render legal advice, and fulfill ethical obligations).
3 “Robots Could be Given Legal Status as ‘Electronic Persons’ in Europe,” The Mirror, posted January 13, 2017 (Luke Edwards).
4 “Handbook of Robotics,” 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.
About the author
Sterling Miller spent over 20 years as in-house counsel, including as general counsel for Sabre Corporation and Travelocity. He currently serves as Senior Counsel for Hilgers Graben PLLC focusing on litigation, data privacy, compliance, and consulting with in-house legal departments. He is CIPP/US certified in data privacy. You can follow his blog “Ten Things You Need to Know as In-House Counsel” at www.TenThings.net and follow him on Twitter® @10ThingsLegal. The American Bar Association is publishing a book of his blog posts later this year/early 2017. His first book, The Evolution of Professional Football, was published by Mill City Press in December 2015 and is available on Amazon® and at www.SterlingMillerBooks.com.