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  • Writer's pictureIRALR


This article has been co-authored by Nishi Kaur and Kunal Yadav, students at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab

What do we mean by AI?

Artificial Intelligence is one of the major issues which surround the legal research industry. AI tools and technologies are being developed to facilitate the processes involved in day-to-day research and litigation. However, due to the dynamism involved in law and other allied activities, the adoption of AI remains a complex proposition.

Before discussing the concept of AI replacing lawyers, we ought to discuss the Artificial Intelligence itself. Perception about AI varies from one person to another. There are many misconceptions that have created fear and apprehensions in the minds of the people. Therefore, it is necessary to have a common understanding of the concept of Artificial Intelligence.

In simplest terms, one can define Artificial Intelligence as the technology which aims to simulate the human thought process by using a computerized model. While the concept seems novel or divergent from the traditional methods, it is perceived and referred to by the people as artificial intelligence. But when it gets fit into the commonplace and we become familiar with it, we begin to consider it just as another piece of the software. This tendency has contributed a lot in our flawed understanding of the concept of Artificial Intelligence.

AI & Legal Industry

In the general debate surrounding the AI, one end of the spectrum opines that if AI overpowers their potential, their jobs and their earnings may be jeopardised. But in the field of law, the opinion on the other end of the spectrum might be the more believed one:

“If you think computers are going to replace lawyers, then you don’t understand what lawyers do.”

The technology works according to the programming and coding, which is based on objective functions and answers which are presented in different situations. In the legal field, there can be no objective answer to any particular situation. Lawyers work on the principle of nuance and disagreement. Even punctuation in a statute can make it vulnerable to the plethora of interpretations of the legal luminaries and professionals. The unpredictable and sly nature of the law cannot let AI replace the humans. AI may not be able to convince the judge for getting an adjournment due to a headache or a marriage of one of its relative. And even if that becomes possible, there is a lot of time for such a revolution to happen.

Challenges for Legal Research

Legal research remains a vital and demanding enterprise that involves both an art and a science simultaneously. Research must be supplemented by the poetic imagination which may seek to highlight the importance and relation, and the prophetic quality to sneak into the future by knowing the kind of answers which have to be used to give direction to an inquiry. The two dreadful challenges which are faced by lawyers in legal research are that they do not have much time for researching and they are apprehensive about the results. A lot of time is wasted in sorting and altering the raw data into the legally usable research.[1]

The algorithms of the databases are at times unable to produce results that a researcher intends to seek from it. Moreover, due to the manifold increase in the amount of information which is available on any topic for research, there is an explosion of information at both primary and secondary level. As a result of this, the researchers face a crisis of confidence about the accuracy and liability of the results.

In light of everything that’s out there, how can you have the confidence that you have found everything you are looking for?” says Leann Blanchfield, Head of the research team, Westlaw Edge.

There is an ease of use when a person relies on the modern tools like google for research. But the syntax of the search engine which encourages us to ask simplistic questions to get some resource material discourages one to dwell into a topic and start more powerful and strong inquiries. Therefore, simplistic tools might be viable for our research, but a terrible place to end the same.

Another challenge for an attorney or researcher is to garner confidence about how will a judge or an authority react to the research and argument which are being formulated by him/her. To have greater confidence in one’s research, it is required to spend much more time on the legal research. But unfortunately, due to the time constraints, it seems unrealistic to spend a lot of time on research. A specialist in AI at Thomson Reuters opines that the lawyers desperately want to save their time but they are terrified of missing something.

In such a situation, Artificial Intelligence is the place where the tension finds its expression in. It is a situation where one has to balance precision- finding the desired vs recall – finding all relevant things without getting missed. As we observe the over-delegation of the work by the researchers, one can also witness the under delegation. This may compromise the quality of the services that one provides to any client in the long run.

A psychological tendency which is associated with a legal researcher is the focus that remains on the detail, intricacies, and an aversion of any risk by employing some control. All this may result in an underutilization rather than the overutilization of the artificial intelligence. The developers of the database have highlighted the conservative tendency of their customers. This has to addressed by either getting the researchers acquainted with the AI or by adapting AI to meet the requirements of the human mind.

Litigation Analytics

Litigation or language analytics is a technology which incorporates the Artificial intelligence with the historical legal data. It is somewhat similar to the process of human intuition when observes a pattern of behaviour in an individual and make predictions about his future behaviour through them. The Litigation Analytics tool helps the lawyers or the researchers to predict the ruling of the judge on any specific aspect of law, the amount of time which the hearing may take and many other aspects which can be used to advice a researcher or a lawyer before proceeding to the courtroom. The tool uses features like graphs and data which makes the technology more comprehensive and interacting.

[1] Godfrey, David. “Legal Services Are Under Stress, but Enduring.” Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging, vol. 43, no. 4, 2019, pp. 67–72.

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