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artificial intelligenceAlthough artificial intelligence (AI) has been used in the e-discovery space for more than 10 years, AI is now capable of more complex litigation tasks, such as legal research, drafting pleadings, and predicting judicial decisions, in a fraction of the time it would take a human lawyer to do the same tasks. If AI can help lawyers and law firms more quickly process and analyze large amounts of data, and in turn, make the litigation process less expensive, faster and more efficient, why have litigators been so slow to adopt the newest technologies and capabilities? Understanding and demystifying what AI can and cannot do (i.e., it can help automate the more mundane, repetitive legal tasks and analyze large amounts of data, but it cannot negotiate, advocate, or provide sophisticated legal advice) might help litigators not fear, but rather, embrace AI as a way to access larger pools of data, make more informed strategic choices in their advocacy, and provide better and more efficient legal services to clients.

In simplified terms, AI is essentially highly advanced software that can simulate human thought processes to complete basic, time consuming tasks and produce relevant and accurate results in much less time. Machine learning is a form of AI that employs statistics, pattern matching, and inference to perform a task, as opposed to using explicit procedures. Perhaps that sounds threatening, but using AI tools as an aid to law practice is not just having a moment; it is here to stay and will soon become an indispensable part of practice for all lawyers. Yet lawyers, and litigators in particular, have been slower to embrace and adopt new technology than other professions. According to a survey conducted last year by the American Bar Association, only 10 percent of lawyers used AI-based tech tools for their legal work in 2018 (though those usage rates are higher for respondents working at larger law firms). (The ABA’s “2018 Legal Technology Survey Report” included 900 respondents from across the nation and at firms of various sizes.) A 2019 Bloomberg Law survey indicates that only one in four people in law firms and legal departments use AI-based legal technology. (Bloomberg Law Legal Operations & Technology Survey included 500+ in house and law firm practitioners.)

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