But using technology to optimise previously complex, time consuming processes is not a new concept. However, employing artificial intelligence (AI) for the analysis and management of traditionally unstructured information, has the potential to not just unlock more value for users but also provide insights that have not been possible before. That is why artificial intelligence for the lawyer or for legal workers is beginning to gain traction. Indeed, the future of legal profession may well be AI and the impact of technology on legal profession will be significant indeed.
Artificial intelligence for the lawyer will help change contract management, with the potential to deliver such a significant transformation to this area because contracts are the foundation of a company’s commercial relationships. Signed agreements govern every pound in and out of an organisation, and for the first time in history, they are being digitised. Prior to this digitisation, it was difficult to use contracts strategically, they were long and full of dense legal text that had to be manually tracked, reviewed and managed. Computer science and artificial intelligence can not only be applied to speed up digitisation of legacy contracts but also analyse contract language in order to fully re-imagine contract management and realise additional value.
Artificial intelligence in the legal industry: Adoption and strategy – Part 1
This is the first article in a three part series looking at artificial intelligence’s growing presence in the legal industry. Here, Information Age looks at the state of AI adoption and how it is changing the strategic role of associates
In most organisations, managing risk and reducing compliance costs is a key part of the remit of legal departments or a general counsel. For years technology transformation barely impacted legal teams and legal documents were reviewed and processed in the same ways they had been for centuries – by high-priced lawyers charged with reading even the simplest agreement. In fact, artificial intelligence for the lawyer was a little like the phrase cheap lawyer, non-existent. Assessing the impact of regulatory changes, conducting audits and even tracking expiry dates were time intensive activities. Legal departments weren’t able to reap the speed, knowledge and other benefits that technology was delivering to almost every other professional discipline.
In addition, as business velocity has grown and customer and supplier relationships have become more complex, the number of documents a legal team must manage and control has also grown, increasing the chance of clauses, items and obligations going missing or being inconsistent. The cost of a missed obligation can range from a minor fine right through to a company being sued for breach of contract. Using artificial intelligence for the lawyer or indeed any legal work to identify obligations, monitor missed items and create employee notification workflows looks to be a no-brainer. AI can sort large volumes of contracts and can offer simple predictions that humans cannot do at scale.
With conflicting requirements for the speed of doing business and managing risk and compliance, self-service contracting has become key – with the right guard rails, many contracting processes can break the shackles of tradition and not need a lawyer to review at all, freeing precious time for more valuable legal work that accrues to the business. So AI for legal workers can disrupt the legal profession.
With or without human-level intelligence — AI has finally come of age
By introducing AI for the lawyer to important document processes and contracts, organisations gain insights into legacy sales, deals or purchases that go beyond a simple search of information. AI can help identify clauses that will be quickly accepted by the counterparty, thus speeding revenue recognition. Alerts can be automated to ensure contract renewals are managed properly and contracts can be searched for clause language that may not comply with new regulatory demands. With these insights, self-service contracting becomes possible, leaving the mundane to the machine and the high value and work and exception handling to the experts.
Data from contracts can also help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of other business systems, as the same insights can flow into sales, procurement, human resources and corporate systems. An organisation with a complex supply chain for example can save a lot of money by making sure all of their contracts with one supplier are meeting the same compliance requirements and are also maintaining similar pricing. Without visibility across a whole organisation, different teams can easily overpay for items they were not aware were being ordered for less money elsewhere in a business.
How do you plead? Could AI soon be the new judge?
The automation of contract management speeds up time to revenue, improves sales teams’ abilities to finalise deals, reduces time to shelf for a company’s product, improves relationships with suppliers and customers, and impacts many other areas of an organisation to enable companies to realise real, tangible value.
AI is set to revolutionise and rule all enterprise business processes. Its use in enterprise application technologies is estimated to be worth $31bn (£23bn) by 2025 – a nearly 200 percent increase from $1.6bn (£1.2bn) in 2018 according to technology market intelligence firm Tractica.
The pressures on businesses from global economic uncertainty and regulatory changes, (particularly in the UK and Europe from GDPR this year and BREXIT next), requires a fast, reactive, and nimble approach to trade, commerce and relationships with customers and suppliers. Applying AI for legal work to these commercial relationships and the tangible environment affecting these relationships will help to meet these changes head on and equip any organisation with the right tools to focus on providing essential support for growth.
Digitisation has started the transformation journey – turning static documents into strategic assets. AI has the potential to bring these digital assets to life and make the rapidly increasing velocity of business easier to manage. In forward-thinking organisations, AI is already turning physical items into data-driven assets that can interact with people and surrounding business systems such as ERP and CRM – ultimately making contracts an asset rather than a liability. That’s the future of the legal profession and legal technology in 2019 will be transformative.
Monish Darda, is the co-founder at CTO of Icertis