The future of law: How AI is transforming legal profession

By Janita Pannu

Law360 Canada (April 19, 2023, 2:13 PM EDT) --
Janita Pannu
Janita Pannu
As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to advance, legal professionals are becoming more and more curious about the potential benefits it can offer.

While the Industrial Revolution of the past automated physical labour, the current AI-powered revolution is automating mental tasks, affecting white-collar jobs that were previously thought to be safe from automation. There is no doubt that AI is having a significant impact on the legal profession, with its ability to conduct legal research, review contracts, find relevant documents, predict legal outcomes and even recommend judicial decisions about sentencing or bail. An excellent example of an AI tool created expressly for legal work is Harvey AI, which has already demonstrated promising outcomes.

While AI has a role to play in the legal system, its limitations must also be considered. Although AI can increase productivity, avoid costly mistakes and facilitate speedy decision-making, most tools are still in development. Simply put, AI technology is not advanced enough to replace human judgment in the legal profession. There is the possibility of embedded bias in the data that feeds AI tools as well as the challenge of understanding the rationale that drives AI-generated responses. These hurdles must be addressed and corrected before AI can be used in certain legal contexts. 

In addition to technical limitations, legal professionals should also consider ethical concerns while using AI. The ethical requirements of a lawyer will always take priority over convenience. There are many ethical considerations in using AI to argue cases and issues of security, client privacy and privilege can arise through the transmission of data between the firm and AI servers.

Embracing technology responsibly in law firms

Challenges aside, adopting AI technology responsibly can positively affect a law firm’s business performance. Adopting AI tools can streamline routine legal tasks, save time and help lawyers to imprint their expertise on tasks that matter most.

AI is already being used to review contracts faster and more accurately than humans with companies like Lawgeex providing this service. CS Disco offers AI-powered discovery services to law firms across the United States.

AI is also widely used in conducting legal research, with AI-powered features to gain further insights. AI-generated content is another way that AI is reshaping the legal profession.

An important factor to consider when implementing AI in law firms is the requirement for clear communication with clients. When working with AI tools, clients should be informed of how their data will be handled and secured. It is also critical to educate clients about the limitations of AI and the importance of human judgment in legal decision-making. Law firms can foster trust with their clients and create a more favourable experience for all parties involved by promoting transparency and straightforward communication.

While AI has the potential to alter the legal profession, it is critical to approach its adoption with caution. To properly use these technologies, lawyers and legal professionals must develop new skill sets. Law schools are already realizing the need for AI literacy, with some offering courses on legal technology and artificial intelligence. Furthermore, continuing education programs and professional development opportunities can assist legal practitioners in staying current on the latest AI technologies and methodologies.

It’s uncertain what role AI will play for the legal profession in the future. While it’s unlikely to replace lawyers, it may have a place in routine legal tasks. Lawyers must be cautious about using AI and ensure they are meeting ethical obligations and protecting client interests.

Janita Pannu, founder of OPIIA Inc., is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience helping companies translate strategic marketing into revenue growth. She has proven success managing multimillion-dollar advertising budgets through international branding, marketing and PR campaigns.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the author’s firm, its clients, Law360 Canada, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

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