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  • Writer's pictureLouw & Heyl

Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Environment

Much like social media came into our lives and individuals, companies and even governments began to use it for sales, messaging and public relations, so artificial intelligence (AI) is set to make its entrance into our everyday lives, including in the legal environment.

AI can be applied in many ways including in the area of legal research which can be time consuming and therefore costly. AI can search many different sources, look for case precedents, search legislation and take much of the arduous work off the desks of lawyers.

Contracts can be fed into AI programmes for review and potential loopholes and anomalies detected before signature.

Lawyers and advocates preparing a case for court can use AI for predictive analytics. Using historical cases and judgements as source material, AI can detect patterns of judgements, judges’ preferences and biases and can predict a likely outcome for your case.

The utilisation of AI in the legal services field will eventually result in better access and affordability of those services for more people. Lawyers traditionally charge per hour and if work can be done more quickly and efficiently, fees can be reduced significantly by employing machine learning.

What users of AI need to be aware of, however, in the early adoption of AI, is any relevant constraints or shortcomings. Until the technology is more mature and people become more conversant with AI generated content, users should have secondary sources and be able to verify AI’s results. This is even more important in the legal field that requires accuracy and precision. It is not always clear what the sources are from which AI pulls its information and therefore verification is imperative. In addition, if sources contain traditional biases, AI will replicate the same assumptions thereby perpetuating stereotypes that society is trying to breakdown.

AI represents enormous potential for just about every industry sector including the law, but users should tread carefully before adopting it wholeheartedly without reservation.

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