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Artificial Intelligence.

The capabilities of AI have opened the doors for new opportunities across industries, playing on value propositions around efficiency and profitability to the point that not even law firms can ignore it anymore. The potential within a law firm certainly impacts the way lawyers practice legal work.

Legal research has changed dramatically over the years with the digitization of case law, statutes, and regulations (Harvard’s entire collection of case law is now available to the public!). ROSS Intelligence (IBM) is using Watson to perform legal research, training Watson to interpret law terminology. AI is also being leveraged to review contracts, and even offer intelligent contracts (based on a variable set). Products like Lex Machina provide lawyers with new insight in case work, offering a better understanding of outcomes against judges/jurisdictions/opposing counsel. Lastly, there is an efficiency play with things like e-filing, which allows for the prep and filing of court docs electronically.

The practice of law has been a focus of much of the AI available to firms today—at least the AI that has made its way to popular use. They’ve gone through the motions of the tech hype cycle and achieved the “slope of enlightenment” or, perhaps for some, the “plateau of productivity.” Arguably, some of it still has a way to go and it’s debatable where it stands, but AI for the practice of law is making its mark.

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