You probably know first-hand that contract drafting and reviewing alone takes over 20 hours of your time each month – 84% of litigators confirm it’s one of their most tedious tasks.
Do you have to do it manually, though?
Not in this decade; automation can take over and help you with 23% of your legal work, a number that’s only going to grow in the coming years.
Further, artificial intelligence (AI) is a game changer because AI tools for lawyers increase efficiency, productivity, performance, and client satisfaction.
Yet many in the legal profession are skeptical about using such tools because legal work requires precision and attention to detail, and well, AI isn’t perfect and may not become perfect in the near future, either.
Despite this drawback, the question you should be asking yourself isn’t, “Whether or not you should use AI tools for lawyers?” – it’s “How can you use artificial intelligence carefully and ethically to your advantage?”
In this guide, we demystify the concept and answer all your lawyer AI-related questions.
What Is Artificial Intelligence And AI Tools?
Artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses any technology used to complete complex tasks that previously required human intelligence, limiting or removing the need for human input.
From AI chatbot assistants communicating with site visitors to personalized learning programs, the uses of legal tech for lawyers are seemingly endless.
However, AI isn’t synonymous with automation.
Automation is setting up a machine to follow predetermined steps, like sending a confirmation or adding a scheduled meeting to your calendar. It does what it’s told and doesn’t expand or change anything.
AI goes a step further. It still involves rules and a clear purpose, but the robot simulates human thinking and makes its own decisions.
A legal AI solution is no different.
Of course, beyond this initial definition, subtypes of AI are wired in different ways and built for specific purposes.
One key concept you need to understand concerning AI tools for the legal profession is machine learning.
What is machine learning?
Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that excels at finding patterns in large amounts of data and can improve through experience, both of which are crucial for law firms.
Through machine learning, legal artificial intelligence easily scans and categorizes files, retrieves legal information from a large database, and points out commonalities or highlights differences between legal documents.
For example, optical character recognition is a machine learning technique that can scan handwritten court notes and turn them into files you can search and edit, saving your paralegals hours of manual work.
You might have to feed your machine learning-powered AI some legal information before its search.
After that, legal tech creates an algorithm that can make predictions and adjust its performance beyond your initial instructions.
Machine learning doesn’t guarantee perfect results each time, but it does guarantee increasingly better results the more experience it gains.
With human supervision, it makes a difference for law firms, but it also begs the question…
Will AI Tools Replace Lawyers?
The short answer is “no.”
AI tech is great at compiling and combing through massive amounts of data fast.
With fewer errors than humans are prone to, in addition to saving time, artificial intelligence can do any job that requires:
- Pattern search and recognition
- Filtering based on keywords or simple parameters
- Attention to detail at scale
- Data-based insights and predictions
- Formatting or conversion
However, being a successful lawyer takes much more than attentive reading.
Strategy, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving are some aspects of the job you can’t delegate to a robot and expect positive results for your firm.
That’s what you do best.
The winning combination requires AI and lawyers to work on the same team.
AI tools for lawyers are here to augment your work and take the tedious parts – like answering FAQs or sorting files – off your plate.
The Positive Impact of AI Tools for Lawyers
AI tools for law firms can revolutionize time-consuming processes and make you wonder how you managed to go through your daily work pile without their help.
Let’s elaborate on the specific ways AI helps you.
eDiscovery is a long and overdrawn process.
AI can go through the Mount Everest of legal documents in the same amount of time it would take a human to go through a modest pile.
It helps determine the correct order of document review, prioritizes the most relevant information, speeds up the whole process, and limits the risk of human mistakes.
Artificial intelligence tools for legal work put all relevant legal documents at your fingertips and make each step of eDiscovery a breeze.
More efficient legal research
Imagine asking your computer legal questions and getting answers in seconds.
Using natural language search, AI does that for you.
It’s a godsend to paralegals and lawyers who spend hours reading pages after pages of documentation and handwritten notes, hoping to find something useful.
More robust document management and automation
AI utilizes pattern recognition and proofreading when checking contracts to highlight missing pages or incorrect clauses and find data irregularities.
Using an AI solution like the iManage Robot, you can:
- Identify specific legal concepts and cluster same-class documents together
- Convert everything to the right document format
- Export data to Excel or another third-party software
- Access documents easily
- Notice missing information and rectify mistakes
Using these tools ensures meticulous work gets done and the entire legal team is home in time for dinner.
Faster due diligence
Without AI for lawyers, contract drafting and reviewing take up to 70% of a legal department’s time.
According to the same whitepaper, applying automation and AI for lawyers drastically improves the situation:
- Senior lawyers can reallocate 15% of their time spent on contract reviews and team management to unique value activities
- Lawyers are 34% more efficient and 51.5% more productive
- Contract processing costs are reduced by 33%
Having all the documents neatly categorized makes due diligence and contract review faster and more affordable, lowering the chances of important details slipping under the radar.
Better litigation analysis and legal analytics
AI improves your awareness of crucial factors related to a case or situation, which lends itself well to litigation analysis and all the analytics involved in law.
Here are some ways it works for you.
|What AI shows you||How it helps you|
|Gives you an overview of what happened in a case||
|Predicts an action’s future impact||
AI gives you a specific answer to a question, like an approximate dollar amount or range for a settlement or verdict, or shows you status reports on relevant metrics.
Compared to what you already have, an AI upgrade gives your law firm a significant boost:
- A more robust sample of past legal cases and legal proceedings to study trends and patterns compared to your previous experience
- Forecasts based on pattern recognition to guide your current cases
- Insights about your total spending and breakdowns by practice areas to help you make cost-effective decisions
- Information about billing and accrual statuses, violations, and more to resolve issues with vendors on time and stay on budget
With all these benefits, it comes as no surprise that 79% of legal professionals report their clients expect them to use legal analytics.
Client-focused legal experience
Being client-focused means you’re putting your clients’ experience and needs first when providing legal help.
You’re not just offering them services at arm’s length. Instead, you’re putting yourself in their shoes to consider what every stage of their experience with you looks like.
Lawyer AI helps you facilitate a client-focused experience by:
- Allowing you to automate processes like onboarding and document collection
- Making the legal research, analysis, and review stages more efficient and error-free
- Giving you more time to be there for your clients
- Cutting the time and costs of legal proceedings and cases and becoming more affordable
You have a win-win situation.
You can also use legal AI tools to collect and analyze reviews from satisfied clients and offer legal help to new leads.
Greater productivity and profitability
AI tools for legal professionals are not a replacement for actual lawyers or your internal documents. Instead, AI lets lawyers augment their work.
We’ve already mentioned the time legal teams spend on contract reviews, brief drafts, and other documents for legal consumers.
When you use AI to your advantage, you achieve more because some tasks do themselves, saving time and energy.
What was a time-consuming task now requires only brief human oversight and fact-checking.
As a result, you get to do more legal cases overall and increase your profitability in the long run.
Challenges and Ethical Considerations in the Adoption of AI for Lawyers
Despite its many benefits, AI also has risks.
You need to be aware of some ethical concerns and drawbacks to use it responsibly and avoid making uncomfortable mistakes or having issues with the American Bar Association (ABA).
Here they are at a glance:
Now let’s unpack these risks and see how your law firms can work around them.
The American Bar Association’s rules of professional conduct
ABA Resolution 112 holds lawyers accountable for understanding the risks of using AI, including the risk of bias and harm to the legal system.
Further, in Resolution 604, the House of ABA adopted three guidelines regarding the use of AI, with the second point being most pertinent to lawyers:
- “Developers of AI should ensure their products, services, systems, and capabilities are subject to human authority, oversight, and control.
- Organizations should be accountable for consequences related to their use of AI, including any legally cognizable injury or harm caused by their actions unless they have taken reasonable steps to prevent harm or injury.
- Developers should ensure the transparency and traceability of their AI and protect related intellectual property by documenting key decisions made regarding the design and risk of data sets, procedures, and outcomes underlying their AI.”
Apart from adhering to the regulations that directly pertain to you, the other two guidelines are worth noting because you’ll ultimately suffer the consequences of AI mistakes if they affect legal consumers.
Generative AI can provide false, made-up information that looks passably like real case law.
You might not realize this happened until it’s too late, which is dangerous if it gets into your documents.
This situation already happened: a New York lawyer cited fake case law generated by ChatGPT.
Following the incident, the Yukon Supreme Court now requests that lawyers disclose their use of AI, and other jurisdictions put regulations in place for harm reduction.
To stay compliant, you must be upfront about using lawyer AI.
Reliability of AI results
AI is still new, and there are limitations to its use cases.
It operates based on available information. If its dataset hasn’t been updated past 2021, it can’t give you the most relevant answers because its knowledge stops there.
For example, if your client asks ChatGPT about the new laws on selling land in Canada in 2023, all it does is suggest other sources where you can find real-time data:
This type of limitation leads to outdated or useless answers.
Further, AI’s ability to understand nuance and pick up on context is still in the early stages of development.
Sometimes, it gives you partial or incorrect answers because it didn’t understand the question. Case in point:
Fact-checking AI-generated information can be time-consuming.
However, compared to manually researching and reviewing all the data, the time you spend reviewing AI-generated results is like a molehill next to a mountain.
Implicit bias in some AI models
When you feed a database to a machine, it adopts the biases that come with it.
It reflects how things were done before, including historical and social inequities and biased human decisions.
These biases are sometimes baked into the system and can skew your results when using AI for predictions and analysis.
If you’re using machine learning AI for lawyers, carefully check the dataset to ensure the machine comes to correct and unbiased conclusions.
Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to guarantee squeaky-clean results. The risks of still picking up conscious or unconscious bias from the data the algorithm processes do not go away as it gains experience.
To account for any leftover bias, include this potential problem in your risk management and analyze the query results you receive from AI before using them.
AI can make decisions using models and internal workings that the user doesn’t understand or can’t interpret.
You may be unsure whether you can trust AI to make sensible and productive decisions because you don’t understand the logic behind them.
Here are the precautions you can take to protect your law firm and clients from these risks:
- Do your due diligence on your legal AI technology and its transparency policy
- Take your time getting to know the tool to understand in which ways you can rely on it and what you can’t use it for
- Document how you’re using AI, including the logic and criteria of your decision-making process
- Communicate it to stakeholders
- Allow for human intervention when necessary
Regulations and legal liability
You must be aware of data privacy, intellectual property, discrimination, insurance, and tort liability and take measures to use AI ethically.
Otherwise, you could infringe on human rights by leaving your clients’ sensitive data vulnerable or perpetuating discrimination within your algorithm.
AI doesn’t automatically know how to distinguish between classified information like a lawyer. If you aren’t aware of it, the technology could get you in trouble.
AI can be expensive, especially if you decide to subscribe to multiple tools and platforms.
You can get around this by using free AI software for lawyers, but you’ll need to be extra careful when using them to avoid the pitfalls we’ve just discussed above.
On the other hand, if you decide to go for paid tools, you can expect to save money in the long run and get a solid ROI on your investment.
Whether you start with free software or jump straight to a paid subscription, our next section has the details you need to find the right AI tool for your law practice.
6 AI Tools for Law Firms
Excellent legal AI technology already exists and is only a few clicks away.
We’ve picked out six tools that have a strong reputation and backing from lawyers:
- Humata AI
Read their use cases below.
*Software information retrieved in July 2023.
ChatGPT by OpenAI has taken the world by storm and crept into all industries.
ChatGPT uses generative AI, combining machine learning and natural language processing. This mechanism allows it to go past processing existing data and develop its own content.
It has a few versions, and the company constantly works on new iterations.
As of July 2023, OpenAI offers its most advanced version, GPT-4, which is easily accessible to the general public via a ChatGPT Plus membership.
What can it do for you?
Standard ChatGPT can be a good initial legal research basis and a fast draft generator. It can:
- Explain complex legal topics
- Cite essential precedents or relevant articles
- Process information and answer questions about it
- Produce letters, contracts, custom clauses, wills, and other high-volume documents
GPT-4 has even more advanced features that lend themselves well to the legal industry, like comprehensive data analysis and classification, better reasoning capabilities, and higher accuracy.
The pros of ChatGPT are:
- Ease of use
- Extensive database to work with
- Affordable pricing with a free plan
- Plethora of lawyer-relevant uses
The cons of ChatGPT are “hallucinations, social biases, and adversarial prompts,” as stated on the site.
Moreover, this tool’s training set doesn’t go past September 2021. In other words, ChatGPT doesn’t “know” anything that happened after that date.
If you asked it to list the most recent personal injury cases, it would list cases that happened until September 2021. The answer would be incorrect because of this knowledge gap.
However, GPT-4 accepts prompts containing missing data and can incorporate them into its responses.
- ChatGPT Free
- ChatGPT Plus (with GPT-4): $20 per month
Midjourney uses generative AI to create images based on prompts.
You can use it to create images for your law firm website or blog and avoid overused stock images.
You can freely use the generated images without violating copyright rules if you use them for non-commercial purposes.
The only requirement is that you link back to Midjourney as your source.
Here are some use cases of this AI technology for law firms:
- Creating a logo or high-quality website image that matches your brand style
- Testing, planning, and visualizing marketing campaigns or ads
- Creating images for blog posts, thumbnails, or personal avatars
One con of this software is the lack of a free plan or trial.
- Basic plan: $10 per month or $96 per year
- Standard plan: $30 per month or $288 per year
- Pro plan: $60 per month or $576 per year
- Mega plan: $120 per month or $1,152 per year
Constant availability is a high and expensive bar when you don’t have robots to help your customer support team, and more clients expect you to be at your desk whenever they call.
They judge your law firm by your initial responsiveness.
Smith.ai combines AI with human intelligence to achieve 24/7 support and solve two types of legal problems that hold lawyers back:
- Missing a call and losing business as a consequence
- Constantly being distracted by calls and falling behind on your responsibilities
Smith.ai offers a virtual receptionist that can assist in client intake by answering and pre-screening calls, scheduling appointments, answering FAQs, and taking payments while you’re busy.
It also helps capture, pre-qualify, and convert leads so your lead generation strategy pays off.
Finally, Smith.ai gives you call intelligence, the key to filtering and picking the most profitable clients and high-quality leads.
Call intelligence guarantees a good match and boosts your client retention.
The cons of this AI for lawyers include:
- Having to pay for separate plans to have AI chat and virtual receptionist capabilities
- Difficulty branding the chat to look like the rest of your law firm, which isn’t ideal for brand recognition
- Virtual receptionist starting at $255 per month
- AI-powered live chat starting at $140 per month, or $10 per chat a la carte
Casetext is aimed specifically at the legal industry.
It’s a legal research technology that covers all state and federal case laws, statutes, rules, and regulations.
Casetext’s main use cases include:
- Contract analysis and revision
- Legal research
- Analysis of historical legal data
- Deposition preparation
So, what’s the catch? According to reviewers, the main downside of Casetext is limited access to secondary sources.
- CoCounsel on demand: Pay per use
- Basic research: $220 per month
- CoCounsel all access: $500 per month
Diligen uses machine learning to support and fast-track contract reviewing.
This intuitive tool’s purpose is to find specific clauses, provisions, and changes more efficiently and cost-effectively.
It’s highly customizable, and you can train it to recognize new concepts that may be relevant to your law firm.
If that sounds like too much work, Diligen has hundreds of clause models you can work with instead.
The best part about this artificial intelligence for lawyers is that it’s scalable and suitable for businesses of all sizes.
However, this software doesn’t offer much more than an advanced legal research capability and only integrates with a few basic tools.
- Not listed; depends on the use case
Humata does a great job explaining what it does as soon as you reach its landing page.
Its concept is “like GPT but for your files.” The software uses natural language processing and machine learning.
Instead of asking questions about a large online database, you choose which files to upload and interact with them through chat.
This process lets lawyers quickly retrieve information, get laser-sharp insights within seconds, and distill complex topics into simple summaries.
Finally, because Humata keeps learning, it easily keeps up with your evolving needs.
Humata’s only con is its free plan’s 60-page limit.
- Freemium: limited free version
- Pro plan: $14.99 per month, plus pay-as-you-go for additional services
- Enterprise plan: custom
2 Real-life Examples of AI in Legal Practices
Now that you know the possibilities of AI for lawyers, let’s see some of these tools in action.
1. The California Innocence Project streamlines its processes
The California Innocence Project employs lawyers seeking to educate students, find justice for those affected by wrongful convictions, and prevent future convictions.
The legal team has limited resources and needs to make the most of them, so it turned to artificial intelligence for lawyers.
CoCounsel by Casetext proved to be the cost-effective solution it needed.
For instance, the California Innocence Project used CoCounsel to write prompt-based draft letters instantly.
Instead of spending 15 minutes writing the letter manually, the company would receive it in seconds and only need to polish it.
These improvements cut the time the company spent on writing letters and enabled it to achieve more without breaking its budget.
As a result, the organization streamlined its processes so much that Michael Semanchik, the Managing Attorney, says having Casetext earlier in his career would have helped him provide legal assistance to even more innocent people.
2. Ziegler Diamond Law boosts its conversion rate by 52%
Ziegler Diamond Law was already using live chat when it noticed leads were getting cold due to late follow-ups on form submissions.
The company signed up for Smith.ai’s Outreach Campaigns, which automatically routes the completed form to Smith.ai so live agents can contact each lead within minutes.
This system drastically reduced Ziegler Diamond Law’s time-to-lead and helped it capture leads that would have otherwise gone to competitors.
- Higher engagement and retention
- Increased conversion rate by 52%
The company experienced such an increase in lead volume that it had to hire a new employee to deal with it.
AI Tools for Lawyers: Assistants, Not Replacements
You can’t count on artificial intelligence to deliver 100% perfect results. However, let’s be honest: you can’t expect that from humans, either.
With some due diligence, oversight, and a fact-checking system in place, you have all it takes to adopt legal AI technology and have it work to your advantage.
Look forward to:
- Fast-tracking lengthy processes
- Empowering your team to be more productive and satisfied
- Making your services affordable to more clients
- Increasing your bottom line
If you need a hand managing your law firm's online presence, don’t hesitate to contact us!
AI for Lawyers FAQs
Keep reading if you have any other artificial intelligence-related questions or want a refresher course about AI for lawyers.
How is AI being used in law?
You can use AI technology for law firms in tandem with automation to make processes more efficient by eliminating time wasted on manual labor.
Artificial intelligence for lawyers can handle data collection and review, give useful analytics reports about your budget or performance, and quickly find small print differences that your legal help team might not catch in contracts.
We have more details in our full section about lawyer AI benefits.
What kind of artificial intelligence is especially useful to lawyers?
The legal industry requires timely information, fact-checking, and document drafting. We can’t forget about clear communication and its relevance for lawyers.
The three main types of AI for lawyers that make at least one of those aspects easier are below.
|AI subset||How it works|
|1. Machine learning||Focuses on accuracy and pattern recognition while scanning existing data, which is of vital importance for lawyers|
|2. Natural language processing (NLP)||Understands human language, translates between languages, analyzes documents, and responds to queries|
|3. Generative artificial intelligence||Uses machine learning and NLP to come up with something new that mimics human-generated content|
We listed the best AI tools for lawyers that use these mechanisms earlier in this article, so use this link to jump back up for concrete examples.
Can an AI for lawyers give legal advice?
Artificial intelligence can generate legal advice, but clients seeking help may be on thin ice. Generative AI often comes up with unreliable or straight-up fake case law.
Law firms should use AI to research laws and similar cases, draft contracts, and communicate with clients only when they have a rigorous fact-checking system.
What are the disadvantages of AI in the legal industry?
AI tools for your law firm can be problematic regarding ethics, transparency, and reliability. They have a place in the legal system, but only under lawyer supervision.
We covered AI-related challenges in an earlier section.
How does AI for lawyers impact the legal profession?
Artificial intelligence for legal professionals is a plus to any legal team that implements it properly.
It can spare you late-night reading sessions or blank pages, provide website imagery, improve client communication, make your legal help services more affordable, and boost your profitability.
We understand it can be intimidating, but you can do your research and start small.
Automate one process or experiment with a single AI tool and then expand to more in the coming years.