• The on-going pandemic has made us realise the importance of technology as the world shifted from 'offline' to 'online' mode.
• Technology has paved its way into every field with even court hearings taking place through online modes.
• A technology like Artificial Intelligence or AI is here to stay and mark its footprints in every sphere possible including the legal industry.
India's legal industry is one of the largest legal industries in the world and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. While the world is witnessing tremendous developments in the field of science and technology, the Indian legal industry has been relatively slow in adopting and inculcating technological changes. The various discoveries made in the domain of technology have contributed in a significant way towards making human lives easier and hassle free to a great extent. One such discovery is 'Artificial Intelligence' (AI). Artificial Intelligence basically means analysis of an environment by a machine and then taking a decision or action best suited to the environment and as per the data and information it has inherited.Deliberation over inclusion of Artificial Intelligence in the legal services industry has been making rounds.
2. WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?
The history of AI dates back to 1950s when Alan Turing came up with the idea of machines that could think and he developed the 'Turing Test' which helps in determining whether a machine is capable of thinking like humans or not.
In 1956, American Computer Scientist John Mcarthy coined the term Artificial Intelligence during the Dartmouth Conference. Numerous researchers and scientists were invited to this conference where concepts around “thinking machines" were developed.
Artificial Intelligence has been defined by the Lexico dictionary as 'the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.'[i]
3. ARITIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE INDIAN LEGAL SERVICES INDUSTRY
Recognising AI's potential to transform economies and the need for India to strategize its approach, Hon'ble Finance Minister, in his budget speech for 2018 – 2019, mandated NITI Aayog to establish the National Program on AI, with a view to guiding the research and development in new and emerging technologies. [ii]The legal industry however, has been slow in adopting technological changes. Even today, it is very much dependent on manual systems for operating. Courts are always overburdened with cases and the number of cases continue to ascend with each passing day. The legal profession in India still operates in a very traditional manner and a prominent amount of work is required to be performed manually. A lawyer has to perform a plethora of tasks such as conducting research, interpreting laws and regulations, advising clients and maintaining case files, documents etc. among many other things. Law firms charge their clients on the basis of billable hours i.e., the amount of time spent directly in working around their client'scases. Introduction of Artificial Intelligence will transform and revolutionise the way in which the legal industry operates. The advent of Covid-19 also has brought an opportunity to change the way the legal industry operates. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence requires a solid Information Technology infrastructure and with Governments initiatives like 'Digital India' we are steadily moving towards it.
Recognising the potential of AI, numerous legal tech AI companies have come into existence globally. In 2015, Lexis Nexis purchased Lex Machina which provides Legal Analytics by using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to look at court documents and data from a number of lawyers and judges in an attempt to prognosticate how a particular judge might rule in a case and determine the attorneys involved. Lawgeek is another AI powered platform wherein they review contracts as per their clients predefined policies and it claims to redline contracts just like a human lawyer. Another great example of AI powered legal technology start-up is ROSS Intelligence which is a legal research software and helps lawyers in speeding up their legal research by using the powers of IBM Watson.
Moving towards inclusion of AI in the legal sector in India, Mike Legal, an AI platform for conducting legal research emerged in 2017 which is similar to the U.S. based ROSS Intelligence. In the same year, to embrace AI technology Indian law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) partnered with a Canada based Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning software company Kira Systems that identifies, extracts, and analyses text in contracts and other documentsand CAMbecame the first law firm in India to do so. Another Indian legal tech start-up is Legitquest which is an online legal research platform for Indian case laws and legal information. Clearly, slowly but steadily AI is paving its way into the Indian legal services industry.
4. THE PROS AND CONS
Stephen Hawking once said - "Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks." Everything that is created in this world has its share of advantages and disadvantages and a technology such as AI is no exception to this.
1. The effect of AI on time saving is immeasurable. Legal research for example, which takes up a significant amount of any lawyers' time can be reduced drastically with its use. The precious time of everyone involved in the case will be saved and in turn will help in ensuring that justice is served timely.Use of AI will trim down the workload of lawyers.
2. AI can also be used for contract reviews in a logical and scientific manner and much more rapidly when compared to a contract reviewed bylawyers manually. Such AI contract reviews are also better in term of accuracy and time taken.
3. AI also helps in raising the efficiency level and reduces the chances of mistakes by collecting information and data to make predications beyond the capability of manual processing.
4. Due diligence which is one of the essential tasks performed by legal professionals is very time consuming and expensive as it requires going through loads of documents with the objective of identifying liabilities, risks and opportunities. With the use of AI in the due diligence process, a lot of time can be saved by extracting that data only which it has learned to be important and relevant thereby sparing the lawyers with valuable work hours.
LawGeex made 20 highly experienced lawyers battle against a trained AI, for a task of spotting errors in a contract. Here are the results:
- Human lawyers took 92 minutes on average with 85% accuracy rate.
- AI read the contract in 26 seconds with 94% accuracy.[iii]
1. AI continuously collects data and information and learns from it. The effectiveness and efficiency of the results depend upon the computed data and how correct the data is. It is very much possible that AI results are not 100% accurate.
2. AI analyses the data it has inherited and predicts the outcomes better than humans but it is bound by limitations of social and emotional awareness and moral values.
3. Presently, it is unclear as to who will borne the liability in case any accident occurs. Will it be the person using the technology or the person from whom the technology was bought? Also, there is no clarity as to the legal personality of AI itself.
4. AI technologies collects bulks of information and data which might give rise to privacy concerns and serious security risks. Hence, it becomes very important to have strong privacy regulations in place without which our privacy will be at risk of getting exploited.
5. The 'Black Box' problem of AI means it does not provide with reasoning behind its outcomes and we do not fully know or understand how the AI algorithms work and why they act the way they do.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change the face of the legal industry and it will require reimagining largely how the industry operates. Introduction of AI will increase the quality and efficiency of legal work undoubtedly and will become a competitive factor for law firms in years to come. Even with so much power and potential, working with AI requires strong regulations to govern it. As technology is paving its way into the legal world, legal professionals also need to move ahead with time and become more tech-savvy in order to survive. To conclude, Artificial Intelligence in the Indian legal industry even though at a very embryonic stage will definitely change the face of the legal industry in the near future but it is going to be a very long journey ahead.
[i] Lexico Dictionaries | English. n.d. Artificial Intelligence | Meaning Of Artificial Intelligence By Lexico. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2020].
[ii] Niti.gov.in. n.d. National Strategy On Artificial Intelligence | NITI Aayog. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 June 2020].
[iii] Faster! A. and Singh, A., n.d. AI Beats Human Lawyers At Contract Reading - By Being 200 Times Faster!. [online] Analytics Vidhya. Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2020].