April 20, 2021

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Impact of artificial intelligence on the legal system

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This article is written by Abheri Roy, a student of B.A LL.B, Department of Law, University of Calcutta (Hazra Campus) and Saptarshee Misra, a student of B.A LL.B, Department of Law, University of Calcutta (Hazra Campus).

Introduction

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In this modern world where different digital technologies have transformed our way of living, the growing science of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the most popular topics. Artificial Intelligence in its literal sense means machine intelligence. The Oxford dictionary defines AI as, “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” In simple words, AI is the capability of a machine or a computer program to think, learn, and behave like humans.  

AI has made a powerful impact on every sphere of human life and its contributions to make our lives simpler are huge. From home security and surveillance to self-driving cars to digital media to virtual assistance, it has covered it all. Not only has it made a remarkable change in the financial sector and education system but also in healthcare, marketing, and transportation. Though Artificial Intelligence is modifying several sectors of our life, it has still not made a satisfactory impact on some sectors; the legal field being one such sector. Even though AI benefits legal professionals to some extent, it can further bring numerous revolutionary changes in the field of law.  

The biggest problem faced by technologically handicapped judicial systems of developing countries is the alarming rise in legal disputes. The total number of pending cases in India as of 31 January 2021, is 37,251,615. This has resulted in an enormous pendency and backlog of cases and consequently, people are losing their trust and faith in the judicial system. To solve this problem, the governments of different countries have introduced various Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. Though these mechanisms have reduced the number of pending cases, the results are not satisfactory. The only way to solve this problem is through the application of AI and technology in the courts so that it can assist the judges in various legal procedures and reduce the backlog.

The judiciary is the bedrock of right and wrong. However, in the recent past, we have seen various instances where the judicial system has been influenced by personal bias and the self-interest of the judges. One of the important aspects of democracy is the judges must be independent, impartial, and free from any sort of external pressure or influence while carrying out their judicial responsibilities. The decision should depend only on the evidence produced before the court and on the provisions of the respective laws. However, it is noticed in many cases where there is a lack of transparency in the judicial proceedings. 

As a result, the sections of the society, who are in dire need of justice, do not get proper access to the benefits of a just legal system, which has been guaranteed by the respective Constitutions of various countries. AI can be used to bring transparency and uniformity to the judicial system. It can help the judges to make an error-free and unbiased decision. Apart from that, the introduction of AI in the legal field can lower the expenses or costs of litigation and judicial proceedings, thus, making it accessible to all sections of society. 

Table of Contents

Machines with artificial intelligence will reform the ways in which a civil or criminal proceeding will take place. It will also assist lawyers as well as judges by reducing the time taken to perform various tasks at different stages of a trial. It can assist the legal professionals in early detection of potential risks, producing superior quality work, improving relationships with the clients, identification of errors, legal analysis, etc.

Artificial Intelligence – The future assistance for lawyers

Artificial intelligence will be useful to lawyers in making well-planned, prudent decisions and also improving the standard of their advocacy. Besides e-discovery and document analysis, it can assist lawyers by performing faster and detailed legal research, predicting legal outcomes with more accuracy, generating automatic pleadings, and more such time-consuming tasks. 

Following are some of the ways in which AI will lessen the pressure of the lawyers:

Legal research

Lawyers can be saved from doing different mundane tasks in the future with the assistance of AI. One such field of work is legal research. Legal research is the first and foremost thing that a lawyer must learn and it plays a significant role in presenting a case in court. Unlike other types of research, legal research requires special skills and legal analysis. It is on legal research that the arguments are based and thus, it plays a major role in winning or losing in the courtroom. Legal research mainly includes finding relevant cases or judgments that are related to the case at hand. Before the advent of online legal research tools, lawyers used to go through hard copies of books and judgments to find out relevant information, which was a huge and laborious task and it took hours and days to find any useful information. 

After the occurrence of the digital revolution, legal research has become easier with several online platforms, providing judgments, and other important information. The Internet now has become a major source of information for lawyers. However, lawyers still face many challenges in doing research. Firstly, legal research is different from any other type of research. It is like a puzzle with no clear or specific answer to the questions researched. A lawyer has to use his legal viewpoints or perspectives to analyse the information available and then come to a conclusion, which may differ from other lawyers based upon their interpretations. 

It is a complicated and time-consuming procedure and thus, lawyers have to face enormous pressure to complete the tasks within the allocated time. Converting this extracted data from the internet into a usable work product takes a lot of time. Due to this lack of time, lawyers are unable to do detailed research and as a result, there is a lack of confidence in the lawyers while pleading before the judge. Moreover, today’s research tools provide vast information, and this excessive information results in great confusion and makes it much more difficult for lawyers to find the actual information they are looking for.

Research tools backed with AI and analytics have the potential to solve all these problems. Using improved search mechanisms, these tools can produce the most relevant search results and they can also produce thousands of related search results in case you are researching an unknown topic. Moreover, machine learning enables them to predict the intention of the lawyers and thus, provides the exact information they are looking for. It also aids the lawyers in formulating the appropriate questions that save their time and boost their confidence. Litigation analytics help lawyers in creating litigation strategies by providing them with various data along with personal insights such as the chances of a judge granting or denying the motion, etc. It uses graphics and data visualization to show whether a particular argument can be successful in the court or not. Another problem faced by the lawyers is that many judgments have been overruled or have received criticisms from another court or laws that have been amended. A lawyer cannot have knowledge about all these things but an AI-powered tool can provide adequate knowledge about these factors.

Predicting outcomes

One of the most important skills a lawyer must possess is to predict the legal outcomes and liability of a case. Most of the time, lawyers are asked by the clients what are the chances of winning the case or whether the outcome will be beneficial if they file the case. Predicting such legal outcomes depends on a large number of factors such as the evidence, witnesses, facts of the case, judge, opinions, previous court orders, and so on. Lawyers try to predict the outcomes of a case by using their experience, reasoning, knowledge, professional judgment, and other cognitive skills. Predicting legal outcomes plays a very significant role in advising clients about future courses of action. However, in many cases, lawyers are unable to predict it correctly, as they have to consider a large amount of data before making the prediction. AI can provide more accurate predictions as it can store and review enormous amounts of data. 

Various foreign companies have already made such legal outcome predicting tools using artificial intelligence. Some of those companies are Lex Machina, Premonition Analytics, Ravel Law, etc. According to the reports, these AI-powered tools can predict court decisions much better than humans as the predictions are based on two centuries of court data analytics. The AI-embedded systems can extract useful facts from the available data and examine them to give answers and the chances of winning the case by analysing related judgments. These tools use machine-learning algorithms to examine the facts and then check whether it is similar to past cases and ultimately predicts the outcome of future cases. 

Generate automatic pleadings

AI can also help lawyers in creating automatic pleadings. It can be used in producing discovery responses, responsive pleadings, and other documents. The only thing the lawyers have to do is to upload the complaint or the discovery request along with the jurisdictional requirements. Legal Mation is one such company that has already made such a system. It uses different AI technologies to produce several types of automated legal documents using the lawyer’s own style of formatting and response strategy. These high-quality drafts are completely customizable as per the lawyer’s needs. 

Document review and contract analysis

Law firms and companies have to go through hundreds and thousands of legal documents and contracts for which they hire lawyers. This can be a very time-consuming and error-prone process for humans. Moreover, finding relevant and useful information from a complicated legal document is a very difficult task. Using machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, AI-backed tools can be used to analyse a given document and extract the problematic clauses or the required portions within seconds. 

Various contract review tools are already being used in other technologically advanced countries. Some of those tools are Kira Systems, LawGeex, eBrevia, etc. These are used to identify, extract and analyse clauses from a contract, redline the texts, and edit contracts. Based upon these reports, lawyers can advise their clients whether to agree to a contract or not and areas of improvement in the contract. Furthermore, these tools are 100% accurate and can produce results within a few seconds that would have taken hours and days for humans.

Classification and Grouping of documents 

Lawyers have to deal with a large number of documents in their day-to-day life such as contracts, briefs, discovery documents, legal opinions, etc. and these documents must be organized in a proper systematic manner. AI with the help of machine learning algorithms can do this task so that lawyers can concentrate on more important tasks. In the case of automated document classification, machine-learning algorithms help to automatically categorize the documents into a pre-determined and distinct category. The classification of documents is done based on the nature of texts in the document and its other features. Classification of litigation docket documents is another task that AI can perform. 

There are hundreds of important documents associated with a case such as a complaint, motions, briefs, orders, judgments, and many more. Out of such hundreds of documents, only a few may be of use to a lawyer. Finding those useful documents manually can be a very difficult task. Machine learning algorithms can be trained to perform this classification task. They have to be trained to spot the differences between the different types of documents. By using a machine learning approach called “clustering“, AI can also be used to automatically group items that possess some common characteristics by detecting the hidden or unknown similarities between them.

How will AI reshape the judicial system throughout the world?

With the immense rise in the pendency of cases and delayed justice, artificial intelligence can be the most effective solution to this problem. Recently, in the 19th biennial state-level conference of judicial officers, S.A. Bobde, Chief Justice of India, said, “We have the possibility of developing Artificial Intelligence for the court system, only for the purpose of ensuring that undue delay is prevented in the delivery of justice.” AI can help the justice delivery system to become “efficient, time-bound, litigant centric, affordable, accessible, cost-effective, transparent and accountable.” Before giving the final verdict, a judge has to perform a number of complicated procedures that are tedious as well as tiresome. As lawyers, judges can also use different AI-powered services to perform these monotonous tasks such that the overall decision-making process becomes faster and efficient. Here are some of the ways in which AI can help the judges:

Studying and examining the documents

Judges have to read and analyse many documents before deciding on the case. These documents may include the first information report (FIR) details, charge sheet, facts of the case, pleadings, and arguments of both parties, evidence, and various other legal documents. In complicated cases, the pleadings submitted before the court can be huge in amount and the evidence produced can be perplexing. Analysing these documents takes a lot of time and thus, there is a delay in giving justice. AI-powered machines can help judges in reading and analysing the contents of a document. 

These tools can go through the pleadings and evidence of both parties and can point out the important areas within the documents in a fraction of seconds. Microsoft has already designed a machine that can read and examine a document more accurately than a human and can answer the questions related to the document. Besides saving a large amount of time of the court, these AI-backed tools can also make the judge confident about his verdict.

Making summaries of the documents

Before coming to a conclusion, a court has to make several interim decisions such as restraining orders, granting orders, etc. to provide short-term relief to the parties while the case is being heard and decided. Giving such interim orders requires a judge to read several legal documents in detail, which is a time-consuming process. Thus, AI can summarize the contents of a document such that the judge can grant these interim orders quickly. Moreover, these tools can concise the precedents and as a result, a greater number of precedents can be read by the judges within the same period. This helps in providing a good and quick judgment by the judge. Summarizer is one such tool that has been designed to make summaries of a document.  

Performing different administrative functions

Besides acting as the guardian of the Constitution, the judiciary is also entrusted with a number of administrative functions. Some of those administrative functions are the appointment of officers and staff, maintaining the records, administration of staff, making the citizens aware of their legal rights, etc. The administrative functions include a number of repetitive tasks that are uninteresting yet necessary. AI-powered machines can help the judges to perform such wearisome tasks and therefore, giving them more time to concentrate on judicial matters. 

Legal research

Judges have to study a lot of precedents and case laws before giving a verdict such that the judgment becomes fair and suitable as per the merits of the case. AI can help the judges to find such relevant case laws within seconds. A number of AI-backed online legal research services have been developed by different countries that use machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to identify relevant precedents and then extract useful information from them. 

Granting of bail/parole/probation

While dealing with a criminal case, a judge has to take various important interim decisions such as granting bail to the accused instead of sending him to jail, releasing a prisoner on parole, or granting probation to an offender. These decisions are generally based on the rights of the convicts as well as the benefits of society. To make such complicated decisions, the court has to examine all the aspects of the case and then apply its own conscientiousness. 

AI-powered machines can help the judges to take these decisions easily and quickly by making it certain that the decisions taken are fair without any personal biases or partiality made by the judges. Public Safety Assessment (PSA) is one such artificial intelligence machine that is being used in the courts of the U.S., assisting the judges in deciding whether to release an accused on bail or not. It is designed to calculate the chances of an accused to commit a crime again or his chance of escape from the far-reaching power of law. 

Settlement of cases based on predictive analysis

One of the biggest problems faced by the judiciary is a large number of pending cases and the shortage of judges to make decisions on those motions. To solve such problems, courts can apply predictive analysis and visualization to show the probable outcomes of a lawsuit to the litigating parties so that the parties opt for an out of court settlement among themselves. This will help the parties to avoid the long and complicated trial procedures and will also save the time of the court. 

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Artificial Intelligence systems that are already available in the legal field

ROSS Intelligence

Developed in 2014 at the University of Toronto, ROSS Intelligence is an AI-powered legal research tool that uses the most advanced technology of Natural Language Understanding (NLU). [68] It is built to answer all your queries and the NLU allows you to ask your legal issues or describe the facts and procedures to the system in natural language instead of using Boolean terms or keywords. 

Once you submit your query, ROSS’s AI starts searching for the most relevant cases that are related to your question and will provide an accurately ranked list of leading cases within a few seconds, with the most useful cases on the top. This saves a huge amount of time and ensures that you do not miss any leading case. To further save your time, ROSS marks the relevant portions of a case so that you can go through them without reading the entire judgment. 

ROSS not only provides you with the most suited judgments but also shows whether the decision has been overruled or superseded or whether it has received any criticisms or questions. Moreover, it comes with another extraordinary feature, known as Find Similar Language, helping you to find supporting cases and other authorities. You can highlight any portion of the judgment and the AI will search for other decisions with similar facts, issues, and judicial interpretation.

KIRA Systems

Founded in 2011, KIRA is an efficient, award-winning Artificial Intelligence system that is specially designed for recognizing, extracting, and examining clauses from contracts and various other legal documents. Using the process of due diligence and machine learning, KIRA can review thousands of unorganized third-party contracts of any file format in a very short span of time. Moreover, its machine-learning tool, Quick Study, enables it to learn to identify and extract new clauses from a contract and it can be used in a large variety of applications. 

KIRA saves 20-60% time for first-time users and saves around 90% time for the experienced ones and it reviews the contracts with 100% accuracy, automatically highlighting and extracting the related texts within seconds. It is designed to review contracts in different languages such as Spanish, French, German, etc., and can learn new languages. It can combine a contract with other contracts to find out the risks and analyse them.

Law firms can be immensely benefited from this AI system as it can perform a variety of tasks apart from contract reviews such as improving playbooks and templates, keeping track and managing contract obligations, finding out opportunities to earn revenue, and remove extra costs. KIRA has been specially trained to prepare error-free and detailed lease summaries for real-estate practices.

eBrevia

Developed in 2012 by two Harvard Law School Graduates, eBrevia is like an e-discovery tool, used to find out relevant texts from various long and complicated legal documents and contracts within a very short period. This uses AI and advanced machine learning to identify and extract content from a contract and makes a summary report of that extracted part. Saving around 50-60% of the time, eBrevia can extract important information from a contract, customize that extracted data and present it in Word, Excel, or other databases. 

Moreover, eBrevia’s software is designed in such a way that it can directly transfer the extracted data to the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Contract Management System (CMS), or Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system. Another important feature is eBrevia maintains the security of the data by using the best security service providers and top-class encrypted Secure Socket Layers (SSL). Recently, eBrevia has introduced a new feature, known as Lease Abstractor. This feature can help law firms dealing in real estate to analyse leases and extract important information that is necessary for several purposes such as budgeting or forecasting, cost recovery, property management, and many more. It can review at an average rate of fifty leases per minute. 

LawGeex

Developed in 2014 by Noory Bechor and Ilan Admon, LawGeex is a contract review automation solution that has been designed to manage, review, and approve daily contracts and business agreements through AI. This has resulted in the reduction of human errors as the AI-backed system automatically detects and highlights the questionable clauses within seconds. This helps the company’s legal team to concentrate and work on more important legal matters.

LawGeex allows the users to store their contract review guidelines in digital playbooks and can store multiple playbooks at a time. Then the contracts are reviewed as per the guidelines given by you. LawGeex takes the help of a secure algorithm to check the contracts against the guidelines given by your company and to find out whether there is anything wrong with it. It highlights the texts that require corrections and if it finds nothing wrong with the contract then it is approved. LawGeex takes less than an hour to review the contracts and can save more than 80% of the time.

FaXiaotao and Xiao Fa

FaXiaotao is China’s first AI-powered robotic research tool, developed by a Chinese company named Wu Song Network Technology Co in 2016. FaXiaotao is designed mainly to analyze a case and then to recognize the type of the case and provides the best possible ways to solve the dispute. Finally, it helps people in choosing the best attorneys that are ideal for representing them in court. It has more than 300,000 attorneys registered in its database from across the country and suggests the best three options to the people. 

Xiao Fa is another Artificial Intelligence robot that has been introduced in the courts of Beijing to provide legal services to judges, litigants, and court officials. It is 1.46 meters in height and explains the legal matters in a child’s voice. It has been manufactured to explain complicated legal matters and legal definitions to people in a very simple language. It can answer more than 40,000 litigation questions along with more than 30,000 legal issues and contains information regarding 7,000 laws and over 5 million cases. Thus, it helps in reducing the cost of litigation, improves the efficiency of the justice system, and saves trial resources.

Is Artificial Intelligence a boon or a bane to the legal sector? 

Whether Artificial Intelligence is a blessing or a curse to the future of human existence is an ongoing debate. The sole idea to create Artificial Intelligence was to make the lives of humans simpler and uncomplicated. However, people are sceptical and concerned regarding the impact of Artificial Intelligence on employment and human resources.  It is plausible that AI in the near future will replace jobs involving tedious repetitive basic problem-solving tasks. Nevertheless, it will enable growth productivity by increasing efficiency and precision. Furthermore, there is a wrong presumption that AI is a threat to the legal system and will replace lawyers and judges but from past evidence and usages of AI, it is obvious that it will enable lawyers and law firms to be more accurate, precise, output focused. With integrated AI algorithms, drafting, e-discovery, legal research, document mining, predicting case outcomes will become easier and inexpensive. 

Every system has its pros and cons. Although the advantages of artificial intelligence outweigh the disadvantages. 

Here are some of the advantages of AI in the legal field:

  • The first and foremost significance of artificial intelligence in the field of law is that it saves a huge amount of time. AI can solve difficult and complicated legal problems without any error within a very short span of time, which is not possible in the case of humans. Moreover, machines can accurately perform complex legal tasks and can deal with more information as compared to humans within a fraction of seconds. On the other hand, it is natural for human beings to make mistakes. Thus, AI saves time, which in turn saves money as the number of lawyers involved in solving a legal problem is reduced.
  • Artificial intelligence machines are programmed with predictive codes as well as previous case laws. Therefore, whenever a similar legal dispute arises, these machines help the lawyers to recognize and examine the potential risks so that they can reduce the chances of these risks in the courts. Furthermore, this allows the lawyers to advise their clients more accurately about the dos and don’ts of a legal suit.
  • Machines work selflessly without any breaks. They are programmed to work for long hours efficiently overcoming the drawback faced by humans who need time to take a break and sleep to work in a well-organized, systematic manner. Thus, AI helps in increasing productivity as well as producing higher-standard work.
  • The entire legal world revolves around the clients so the lawyers need to adjust to the changing demands of the clients. Since AI saves a lot of time by performing tedious repetitive tasks, lawyers now get enough time to build and improve the relations with clients. 
  • Lastly, human decisions are generally based on emotions. Emotions not only affect the nature of the decision but also a greater time is taken to convey the decision. On the other hand, machines resolve the matter rationally, logically, and not emotionally. The non-existence of emotions and feelings allows machines to make the right decisions in a short period.

But every system has its disadvantages. The undermentioned points are some of the cons that the system has:

  • One of the chief disadvantages faced by machines is that it lacks originality, creativity, and innovative skills. Machines can never replicate man. It will continue its performance repeatedly if no command is given. As a result, it would not be possible for machines to survive in this dynamic environment without human assistance. If machines are used instead of judges to decide a case, they will give the judgments based on pre-determined cases, which may not be applicable in all circumstances because each case differs from the other in some way or the other. 
  • Applications of AI in the legal sector is still an emerging concept, mainly in the developing countries of the world. This is because traditional legal practitioners are reluctant in using machines, as most of them are not comfortable with it. Moreover, in the developing countries, technologies and machines are still outdated as compared to the developed countries of the world and thus, they are still not reliable. Finally, the most important reason for lawyers not to use AI is the risk of unemployment.  Now that AI is getting more prevalent, there is a high chance of large-scale unemployment. Since machines are more efficient in performing low-skilled repetitive jobs, industries are willing to invest in machines rather than in humans, and as a result, there is a high possibility that machines will replace humans in doing tedious tasks such as many paralegals may lose their job as most of their tasks can be done by machines.
  • Another major disadvantage is that these complex machines incur huge installation costs as well as maintenance and repair costs, which only a few organizations can afford. Moreover, with the changes in the environment, there is a continuous need for upgrading the software programs that also require a huge fund.
  • The legal personality of artificial intelligence is still not clear, as it is not properly defined in any of the laws. The current legal framework does not define whether the common laws apply to AI and machines. This creates confusion in case of disputes that involve the legal status of robots or machines.
  • Whenever it comes to machines, the first thing that strikes our mind is data security. The AI-powered machines must be designed in such a way that client data remains secured and protected so that they are not misused. However, in reality, there are various instances, where the personal information of the clients has been exploited. 

To sum up, Artificial Intelligence is no more a futuristic idea but a reality. The world is on the point of transition to alter dramatically many sectors through artificial intelligence and machine learning. There are already remarkable deployments in education, healthcare, finance, transportation, security and surveillance, and it is making impressive modifications in decision-making, risk reduction, business patterns, and system performance. Besides all these, artificial intelligence is also assisting lawyers and judges by reducing the time taken to perform various tasks at numerous stages of the trial and decision-making process. It becomes undeniable that by saving time in the trial and decision-making process the number of pending cases in the courts of law would lessen. 

With the imminent rise of efficiency, productivity and sustainability, there comes a myriad of socioeconomic, political, institutional challenges that must be communicated to the inhabitants of the country so that they can utilize all the benefits of AI for economic prosperity and growth. This shall ensure efficacious justice to the masses. AI will enhance the way we think or perceive things and change the outlook by exploring new horizons from space to oceans. It will bring a revolution in mankind and can become the most powerful and dominant human innovation in history. 

1) Kurzweil, Ray 1999. The age of spiritual machines. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-88217-8.

2) Parth Jain, Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable and Effective Justice Delivery in India, 11 OIDA International Journal Of Sustainable Development, 63, 66-68 (2018).

3) Jatin Borana, Applications of Artificial Intelligence & Associated Technologies, Proceeding Of International Conference On Emerging Technologies In Engineering, Biomedical, Management And Science, 64, 64-65 (2016).

4) Susan L. Shin, How AI can Help You be a Better Litigator, New York Law Journal (2019).

5) Harry Surden, Machine Learning and Law, 89 Wash L. Rev, 87, 102-107 (2014).


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