White paper

How AI document understanding makes lawyers superhuman

Lawyers are only human. Even the best and brightest minds face challenges in analyzing reams of documentation quickly, comprehensively, and accurately to expose critical information, flag risks, and provide strategic advice to clients.

Luckily, lawyers no longer have to fly solo.

Artificial intelligence (AI) document understanding offers the super strength, speed, and intelligence necessary to take human expertise to the next level. Instead of losing precious hours reading endless documents, lawyers can save time and focus on what matters most, while AI searches thousands of files in seconds, precisely surfacing the data and language most relevant to the inquiry. Armed with this vital information, lawyers are empowered to advise clients on important issues and decisions in a timely fashion.

This partnership between people and AI provides rich opportunities to automate document-intensive workflows, improve efficiency, boost accuracy, and manage complex agreements with ease. As a result of combining AI with fluid and flexible data access through optimal document management, lawyers are well positioned to deliver the legal and commercial insight their clients need.

In this whitepaper, we’ll explore how AI document understanding gives lawyers superhuman powers, enabling them to keep a tight rein on three major issues: compliance, risk management, and due diligence.


General counsel and client legal teams are on the front lines when it comes to ensuring that their organization’s activities comply with diverse and evolving data protection laws and regulatory rules, and they rely heavily on their lawyers to guide them through this potential minefield. There may be third parties to coordinate, staffing issues to navigate, governance and internal policies to update and maintain, and many other issues. 

Clients must understand the compliance requirements surrounding every contract, agreement, and policy — even when specific language differs between documents — and be kept abreast of the potential impact of any new requirements on the horizon.

The challenges

This is a complex task at the best of times, made harder when there is a lack of organization. If contracts are stored across numerous platforms — including desktops, email, mobile phones, and more — then it is very difficult to quickly find relevant provisions and check for compliance. Even when documents are organized across platforms, creating true visibility is still expensive and time consuming.

The solution

The key is to implement a process-oriented and tech-enabled approach to overall compliance. By organizing documents systematically and deploying an AI document understanding solution designed specifically for law firms, the most important data can be illuminated and put at lawyers’ fingertips. Doing so will create that all-important visibility that, in turn, enables confident analysis, informs advice, and empowers good decision making.

Risk management

Here too, clarity is key: lawyers need to know where specific risks lie to advise clients effectively so that they can mitigate the risks. Contract opacity is simply unacceptable — the threat of failing to identify and manage key risks looms large, from lost revenue to supply disruption, brand damage to expensive lawsuits, and other financial penalties.

The challenges

The inability to identify risks quickly and clearly is a serious challenge, especially when there may be thousands of documents to go through and different terminology and creative language may “hide” certain liabilities. Being able to pinpoint risk and extract relevant insights is a tall order, prone to human error and highly inefficient if attempted entirely manually.

The solution

AI document understanding enables lawyers to reveal hidden risks within client contracts and other documentation. This involves uncovering “linguistic outliers” — phrases that hide in the shadows by failing to match specific search terms. 

Using AI tools minimizes the chances of an important risk being overlooked. It allows junior staff to complete document reviews in an intelligent and efficient manner with less oversight required from supervising lawyers. Therefore, lawyers can be confident their analysis is thorough and correct and can tailor their advice to clients accordingly. 

Due diligence

The stakes are highest when it comes to carrying out effective due diligence for high-value mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions. Here, lawyers are facing the perfect storm: tons of information stored in many diverse and disparate documents, plus extremely tight deadlines.

The challenges

Between poorly organized files and a wide variety of linguistic outliers, it can be difficult for lawyers to find what they are looking for or uncover all the critical data, terms, and details. The result is a due diligence process that can frustrate even the most patient and skilled legal expert — and leave gaps in the process where rights or obligations could get missed. 

Sometimes, the complexity paired with limited timelines means that only a set percentage of documentation can be reviewed — for instance, 10% of a random sample — and the findings are then projected onto the rest of the files. This, of course, can leave plenty of issues lurking beneath the surface.

The solution

Lawyers don’t have to make educated assumptions or try to cram a full review into an unreasonably short period of time. Instead, they can turn to an AI document understanding solution, which — with a little help from document management — makes files easy to access and even easier to search. It also can facilitate a “gap analysis” process to identify where vital information is missing and enable due diligence projects to be scaled up to provide a more comprehensive risk analysis.

The AI exposes critical data so that lawyers can make sense of their clients’ documents in seconds and unearth any vital, buried details that may have significant implications for the deal, such as something that impacts the asking price and saves money on the acquisition. 

Achieving superhuman capabilities

AI document understanding gives lawyers superhuman capabilities. From compliance to risk management and due diligence, the information and insight delivered by AI enables lawyers to go above and beyond in their advice in strategic, commercial, and legal terms. By elevating legal professionals’ skills and expertise, AI systems help them work more productively, enabling them to be more precise, thorough, and efficient — and ultimately delivering greater value to clients. 

To achieve superhuman status, lawyers need a platform capable of bringing document management and AI document understanding together. Thomson Reuters Document Intelligence delivers on all these fronts and more, offering solutions that work on day one. Find out how by scheduling a demo today

Speed up your M&A Due Diligence process

Learn how to help your legal team perform cost-effective, efficient, and accurate due diligence reviews