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3 Ways AI Has Already Impacted Legal Practice

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 26, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You don't have to look far to find someone claiming that lawyers are tech-phobic. The perception of lawyers as reactionary Luddites isn't exactly correct, however. While the legal industry might not embrace the latest tech trends as quickly as say, a Silicon Valley social media startup, lawyers are no strangers to cutting-edge tech.

Take artificial intelligence, for example. A developing technology with some of the most "disruptive" potential, artificial intelligence is already working its way in to the legal sphere and leaving its mark on attorneys' everyday practices. Here are some examples to help illustrate AI's influence, taken from the FindLaw archives.

1. BigLaw Firm Brings Artificial Intelligence on Board

BakerHostetler became one of the first BigLaw players to publicly license AI technology for use in its firm, when it teamed up with the legal tech company ROSS this summer. The BigLaw firm is putting ROSS's AI technology to work in its Bankruptcy, Restructuring, and Creditor Rights practice, helping attorneys research the law a bit faster. But while BakerHostetler might have been first, it wasn't the last; other big name firms soon followed, bringing AI in to their practices.

2. Clients Want Artificial Intelligence and They Want It Soon-ish

Plenty of firms are taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach to tech adaptation. But that doesn't mean that technology isn't impacting their lives. It is, even if it's just through client demands.

As companies begin to integrate artificial intelligence technology into their own business, particularly in industries like banking and finance, where AI has thrived, they're becoming more vocal, urging attorneys to update their practice with technology that will make it smarter, more efficient, and (most importantly, if you're a client) potentially more affordable.

Some of the most aggressive technological change in the legal industry is coming from in-house attorneys. Under increased pressure to meet budgetary and operational goals, corporate law departments have been turning to technology at a rapid pace. The main push is towards data, with a focus on collecting and processing data, often through automated tools, then using the results to influence legal decisions and strategy. There are no in-house robot lawyers in most departments just yet, but the focus on new technology has given rise to a host of new in-house positions, like legal database administrators.

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