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Posted in: Data Security/Privacy

Jan 5, 2018

Embracing Artificial Intelligence at Your Law Firm

3 Keys to Successfully Introducing AI

Advances in technology are transforming entire industries: Airbnb and Uber have wreaked havoc on the hotel and taxi industries; Netflix and online-streaming have turned the media industry on its head; self-driving cars are set to revolutionize the automotive industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies are beginning to gain momentum in the legal profession and may ultimately transform the delivery model for legal services. Lawyers tend to be resistant to change and risk-averse, but those who see technology as an opportunity -- rather than a threat -- will reap the rewards, and those who cling to the status quo run the risk of being left behind.

So how do you convince lawyers of the benefits of AI? Here are 3 best practices.

Lawyers Think Differently – So Deal With It

Despite the obvious benefits of AI, persuading lawyers to embrace it can be a major challenge. Lawyers look at the world from a different perspective. To maximize buy-in from key decision-makers, consider framing the AI argument in a manner that recognizes (and is tailored to) lawyers’ particular idiosyncrasies.

First, lawyers are generally skeptical and resistant to change  - it’s part of their job description. Lawyers are trained to rely on precedent. So consider framing AI as a complement to existing processes rather than a wholesale replacement of lawyers. Acknowledge that lawyers are here to stay, and that the way they analyze and solve problems is valuable. But explain that lawyers who leverage AI can provide greater value and an improved service offering to clients.

Second, lawyers are client-oriented and deadline-driven. So focus on the efficiency benefits of AI. Lawyers can use AI to handle the more laborious and time-intensive tasks, freeing up time to focus on higher-value work. AI can help lawyers deliver services to their clients faster and more affordably, without sacrificing quality. Shorter turnaround times are an easy sell. In addition to focusing on time saved, frame the argument as one of growth and competitive advantage.  For early adopters, artificial intelligence might mean a broader range of clients and new sources of revenue.

Third, lawyers are careful, risk averse and detail-oriented. So position AI as a highly reliable second set of eyes. For example, in the context of a complex, document-intensive litigation matter, AI can unearth key documents that human eyes might miss. During the due diligence phase of a sophisticated corporate transaction, AI can identify material contractual provisions with a high degree of accuracy.

Run A Pilot

Conducting a pilot will allow your organization to test the capabilities of the particular AI product, ensure that its features are well understood, and propose refinements to optimize the product’s performance.

At Aird & Berlis, we recently completed a pilot project of an AI tool called Diligen. Diligen uses AI to support the due diligence process typical in M&A transactions. In the transactional context, the due diligence process is critical, painstaking, and time sensitive. One important aspect of the due diligence process in M&A transactions is the review of material contracts of the target company. Diligen streamlines this aspect of the due diligence process by combining automated contract review with collaborative project management. Using advanced machine learning algorithms, Diligen swiftly reviews thousands of complex documents and accurately extracts and catalogues key contractual provisions. We conducted a pilot of Diligen because we were looking for ways to innovate and deliver value to our clients. During the pilot period, a client came to us on a Friday evening with a significant due diligence project and a tight deadline – we had until Monday morning to complete our review and provide a detailed report to the client. We used Diligen to expedite the review and meet the deadline, without sacrificing the quality of our work. Our lawyers involved in the project were delighted and keen to use the tool on other transactions.

Educate Other Stakeholders and Champion the Benefits

Both during and after a successful pilot, it is critical to educate other stakeholders throughout your organization (beyond the key decision-makers who approved the pilot). As with the key decision-makers, start by dispelling myths about what AI is (and is not) all about. In the legal profession, AI is not about replacing people with machines. It’s about using technology as a complement to what lawyers do. It’s about allowing lawyers to focus on providing strategic legal and business advice. It’s about saving time and money, optimizing resources and delivering value to clients. It’s about retaining existing clients and winning market share. It’s about reducing risk.

Any new technology needs advocates who will champion its benefits. I strongly believe that AI will transform the legal industry, and I encourage you to champion AI within your organization. AI presents a golden opportunity for lawyers and law firms to transform the way they deliver services to clients. Soon enough, ignoring this opportunity won’t be an option.

*Aaron will be seconded to Diligen in early 2018. This article was previously published on law.com.