Imagine a future world where mutant beings, called ‘precogs,’ foresee crime before it occurs. Tapping into their collective brainpower, the government’s Precrime Division can apprehend suspects who have not yet committed any offense — though, we are assured, they will.
The stuff of science fiction? So far, yes: it’s the plot of a story by Philip K. Dick, later turned into a Steven Spielberg film, Minority Report. But the predictive power of artificial intelligence (AI) is already reality for parts of the legal industry, and it has massive implications for how lawyers use data to predict and protect their clients’ futures.
AI is already influencing the way that law firms are conducting legal work, starting with initial investigations and building through the data-intensive litigation-discovery process. These approaches are improving efficiency and accuracy, and eliminating some repetitive and unrewarding tasks.
For example, at the start of an investigation or discovery, advanced pattern-detection tools can use text analytics to identify topics, concepts and related words within emails and other documents. They can quickly give investigators a clear view of the themes or trends that exist within the data, advising them about the patterns of that data or the keywords they should leverage for additional searches. Second-generation technology-assisted review — one of the most powerful (and initially, controversial) tools to emerge in the last decade — uses a continuous active-learning algorithm to select documents and move them to the top of the lawyers’ pile for review.
Of course, independent human judgement is still, as ever, required for the ethical practice of law. To learn more about current and possible future uses for AI in legal practice, please contact your Ally Law lawyer.