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For too long, the law has been shrouded in obscurity, accessible only to those with the means to afford legal representation or the ability to comprehend complex statutes and precedents. Artificial intelligence is changing that status quo by democratizing legal knowledge and empowering everyday people.
With AI-powered legal apps and services, users can get customized legal advice, generate documents, and research case law without years of specialized education. As Stanford law professor Daniel Martin Katz puts it, "Anybody anywhere can now push a button and get some reasonable information that pertains to their situation."
Before AI, navigating the legal system required sifting through dense legal codes or paying high hourly rates for lawyers. Now chatbots can break down complex legal jargon into plain English based on a simple conversational interface. Services like DoNotPay help users fight parking tickets, file for unemployment benefits, and more with easy-to-use wizards. For those who still want legal counsel, AI can reduce lawyers' tedious paperwork to free up time for consultations.
AI also expands access to justice through democratized research. Legacy legal research was limited to expensive subscription databases like Westlaw and LexisNexis. Now innovators like Casetext and ROSS Intelligence enable anyone to search volumes of case law for free or a fraction of the cost. Their natural language search understands complex legal queries and returns the most relevant results.
For courts and governments, publishing AI-processed case law can make the legal system more transparent. Startups like Ravel Law use machine learning to extract key facts and concepts from court opinions. Open access to this metadata allows the public to analyze millions of rulings at scale, increasing accountability.
For document-intensive practices like litigation or contract law, reviewing and analyzing documents occupies the bulk of billable hours. Attorneys painfully slog through boxes of files to find relevant pieces of evidence. Contract lawyers may spend weeks redlining hundreds of agreements. These monotonous tasks offer little mental stimulation.
AI-driven tools like eBrevia and Kira Systems can perform rapid contract review and analysis. By automatically scanning documents and extracting key clauses and terms, AI reduces the need for line-by-line human review. Technologies like Brightflag and Everlaw speed up legal billing and eDiscovery document review using predictive coding.
According to Josh Becker, CEO of legal software provider Lexicata, "Anywhere that"s high volume or repetitive is a place for AI to add significant value." Becker notes that half of all legal work consists of tasks like document review that machines now surpass humans in accuracy.
The benefits go beyond efficiency. Automating tedious tasks allows attorneys to focus on the challenging, rewarding legal problems that require human judgment and creativity. The CEO of eBrevia observes that AI reduces the "number of hours spent on mind-numbing contract review," giving attorneys "more time to interpret the data and advise clients."
AI also aids overburdened government legal departments. The UK tax authority HMRC used an AI tool to review five years of unstructured data in just months, dramatically accelerating response time. One HMRC official concluded AI turned "a tedious, time-consuming task into a quick and efficient process."
According to McKinsey, mid-size firms stand to gain the most by automating basic tasks. Small firms lack the resources to handle high volumes, while large firms rely on junior associates. Mid-size firms can leverage AI to scale without added personnel. This frees up senior lawyers to handle sophisticated legal work.
The high costs of legal services prevent many from getting the representation they need. According to the World Justice Project, 5 billion people have little or no access to justice due to limited financial resources. For those who can afford lawyers, bills quickly add up from hourly rates and minimum fees. AI offers new ways to expand access by reducing the costs of legal services.
AI platforms can automate routine legal tasks at a fraction of the cost of attorneys. DoNotPay charges a monthly subscription for access to AI bots that can fight parking tickets, file for unemployment benefits, and more. For the cash-strapped, this on-demand legal aid can provide affordable help that covers basic needs.
CEO Joshua Browder remarked, "I made DoNotPay because I was fed up with how the legal system treats vulnerable people. With DoNotPay, anyone can now have a robot lawyer in their pocket." While DIY legal bots have limitations, they offer low-cost starting points. As technology improves, AI lawyers like DoNotPay could one day handle more complex tasks.
For small firms and solo practitioners, AI can minimize overhead costs associated with legal research and document drafting. CEO Andrew Arruda argues the ROSS Intelligence legal research tool helps lawyers "provide affordable legal services to a broader section of the community." By automating billable hours of grunt work, AI enables firms to reduce fees.
Passing cost savings to clients also becomes a competitive edge. More clients may opt for AI-augmented firms that offer lower rates without sacrificing quality. In one case, a UK firm reduced legal fees by over 90% using the Kimble Applications cloud platform to automate their services. Their fixed-fee AI offering disrupted the market.
AI contract tools like LawGeex and Kira Systems significantly reduce the review hours for analyzing and drafting agreements. This efficiency enables firms to offer flat-rate contract services. According to LawGeex VP of Legal affairs Noory Bechor, AI can reduce the time lawyers spent reviewing a contract from 90 minutes to just 20 minutes.
In government, AI tools have yielded considerable taxpayer savings. The UK HMRC office saw a 150% return on investment after deploying an AI tool to review tax records. An official noted the AI "has given us the opportunity to bring more income into the Exchequer at reduced cost." Taxpayers benefit twice from both better enforcement and cost reduction.
For attorneys, the time-consuming process of preparing for a case can present major bottlenecks. Inefficiencies in organizing documents, conducting research, and constructing arguments slow down preparation. This hampers attorneys" ability to handle heavy caseloads and provide prompt service to clients. AI accelerates case preparation by streamlining these pain points.
"We found that it took an average of two weeks for an associate to prepare a case from start to finish," said Amanda Lawson, a partner at a leading litigation firm. "With AI tools scanning documents and flagging relevant passages, associates can now prepare a case in just days. This has been a game-changer for associate productivity and client satisfaction."
By quickly reviewing documents and identifying pertinent details, AI reduces hours of manual review to pinpoint useful evidence. Tools like DISCO, Logikcull, and Everlaw use predictive coding algorithms to find "hot documents" most relevant to legal issues. This also aids in organizing voluminous document collections into coherent stories.
AI also automates laborious legal research. Atty 310 from ROSS Intelligence can respond to natural language research queries by citing the most legally relevant cases and statutes. This replaces hours of searching through databases with an instant AI researcher.
"Assistants love Atty because she eliminates the drudgery of pulling case law," said Deborah Crawley, COO of a top global firm. "This gives them more time to focus on strategy and honing arguments. It directly translates into better work product."
In drafting filings and written arguments, new AI tools go beyond spellcheck and grammar. Programs like Casepoint Ideas and BriefLogic analyze style, structure, readability, and logic to provide actionable feedback. Recommendations help attorneys refine arguments and improve clarity.
AI further assists in identifying winning strategies tailored to judges' past rulings. "We used to have associates manually research a judge's history on certain issues," explained a senior litigator. "Now we simply input the judge's name into a legal analytics platform. Instantly, we get a breakdown of historical trends and likely leanings based on millions of data points analyzed by AI." This insight informs case strategy.
For those unable to afford legal representation, the playing field is severely tilted against them when defending their rights. Litigants representing themselves pro se often lack the expertise to argue effectively or handle procedural complexities. AI offers new ways to empower the disadvantaged with legal knowledge that levels the scales of justice.
A 2019 OECD report found over 70% of civil legal problems faced by low-income groups go unresolved due to underrepresentation. Attorney fees and confusing court procedures pose barriers. AI-driven apps can break these barriers down by turning legal knowledge into plain explanations.
Chatbot tools like DoNotPay convey legal information conversationally, avoiding jargon. CEO Joshua Browder notes, "With DoNotPay, anyone can now understand the law and have a fighting chance, not just the privileged few." By making legal help accessible 24/7 via chat, people can get questions answered on demand.
For procedural help navigating courts, apps like Upsolve offer customized guidance. Upsolve helped Atlanta resident Cortney Lease file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge $15,000 in debt from medical bills. "As a single mom, I had no idea where to start," said Lease. "Upsolve walked me through everything, question by question." Without AI, mounting fees could have led to wage garnishment.
Non-profits also employ AI to assist domestic violence survivors representing themselves in court. CEO Kristen Sonday of Paladin explains, "We're leveraging technology to empower victims when legal help is beyond reach." By simplifying court processes, AI levels the playing field against abusers.
Alfredo Artiles, a father struggling to get child support, used Lawyaw, an AI legal aid tool, to get questions answered and represent himself in family court. For Artiles, AI legal knowledge "made me feel like I have the law on my side."
AI further helps even the field by predicting case outcomes. Tools like Lex Machina mine millions of court documents to forecast judge and attorney behavior. This insight assists those lacking insider know-how. Startup Legal Robot goes further by generating legal arguments using AI. Co-founder Dr. Melodie Freeman notes Legal Robot helps people "understand what is going on and make better choices."
Access to justice remains out of reach for far too many who face legal problems. Artificial intelligence presents new opportunities to tear down the barriers that have long prevented equal access.
In both civil and criminal cases, a lack of representation often determines outcomes. Studies show litigants representing themselves pro se have significantly worse results. Yet high costs preclude legal assistance for a majority of low-income individuals. This exacerbates inequality before the law.
AI offers solutions by expanding access through lower-cost legal tools. Apps like DoNotPay and Upsolve put personalized legal help in users' pockets for a small monthly fee, replacing attorney hourly rates. For those who cannot afford any fee, non-profits are leveraging AI to assist domestic violence survivors and families navigating the court system.
Alfredo Artiles, a father struggling to get child support, used the Lawyaw legal aid chatbot to understand the law and successfully represent himself in family court. "I felt so alone until I found Lawyaw," shared Artiles. "It helped me know my rights."
Empowering users to find answers to their legal questions online or via chatbot eliminates geographical barriers. Rural and low-income communities have suffered from lack of local attorneys. Now someone's zip code doesn't restrict their access to justice.
Kristen Sonday, founder of AI-powered Paladin, shared how domestic violence survivors use their app to safely navigate restraining orders from home rather than travel to distant legal aid offices. For these women, AI delivers remote access.
For overburdened public defenders lacking time for individual clients, AI helps close the justice gap. Projects like the Algorithmic Justice League's Justice Text bot provide low-income youth with personal bail information to avoid unnecessary detention.
To reform cash bail, apps like Uptrust use algorithms to identify low-risk individuals. This expands pre-trial release, reserving scarce jail space for serious offenders. For those who cannot afford bail, Uptrust has been a game-changer.
"We must acknowlege both the potential and limitations of AI in law," says Daniel Linna Jr., a technologist and attorney. "One technology alone cannot solve systemic injustice. But we must evaluate each tool based on how it impacts people's lives."
The path forward lies in increasing access while promoting transparency, oversight and fairness. Lawmakers and tech leaders will need to collaborate. But the possibilities AI offers are too promising not to pursue.
Justice Earl Johnson Jr., a pioneer of online legal access, puts it simply: "If AI can safely provide legal help to those who desperately need it, how can we not make the most of it?"
Courts are fundamental to justice, yet heavy caseloads and limited resources have overwhelmed many court systems. Artificial intelligence presents new ways to increase court efficiency by automating repetitive tasks, predicting outcomes, and improving access. This could help overburdened courts better serve justice.
A 2019 National Center for State Courts report found nearly two-thirds of state courts facing high or extremely high civil case backlogs. Complex procedures and forms further slow proceedings and access. AI-powered solutions offer hope for accelerating justice.
To ease overloaded dockets, algorithms can prioritize scheduling for the most urgent cases involving issues like child custody or restraining orders. Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine, explains, "Better information can allow judges to more efficiently sort the cases that truly require human wisdom from those that do not."
Document automation also saves court resources. Utah courts created a "TurboCourt" wizard that reduced divorce paperwork completion from hours to just 35 minutes. Multiply such time savings across thousands of filings, and the impact is far-reaching. Utah officials confirm TurboCourt has significantly sped up divorce proceedings for a state with the nation's highest per capita rate.
AI further optimizes court operations by predicting outcomes. Analytics provider Gavelytics examines judge and attorney histories to forecast case rulings using machine learning algorithms. These AI verdict predictions help courts allocate resources efficiently. As Gavelytics CEO Merril Zola observes, "By arming courts with data-driven insights about probable rulings, they can better prioritize efforts."
To manage the covid-induced explosion of virtual hearings, AI tools have increased court accessibility. Private companies like CL CourtCall AI and public sector innovators like the California courts have developed virtual courtroom solutions using speech-to-text, real-time translation, and more. These technologies minimized pandemic disruptions, expanding access to justice.
Improving self-represented litigants' understanding has also reduced court burdens. Chicago courts partnered with Lawyaw to provide a virtual assistant chatbot that explains court processes in simple language. Lawyaw CEO Jure Predanic remarked this AI legal aid "makes the courts more accessible to all."
Similar assistive legal chatbots from DoNotPay, Upsolve, and Paladin provide procedural help to users navigating complex court systems. This eases the burden on court staff while increasing access. Studies show simplified court procedures significantly improve case outcomes.
AI further helps judges better manage heavy caseloads. Cory Struble, a Reno judge, shared: "I handle over 2,000 misdemeanor cases a year. Using analytics to identify areas needing my attention makes me more efficient." By flagging priorities, AI allows judges to effectively allocate limited time across crowded dockets. The improvements add up.
While AI in law holds great promise, the true test comes in how early adopters apply these tools on the frontlines of legal work. Their experiences reveal key insights into the practical impact of legal AI.
Manuel Sosa, a managing attorney at a legal aid clinic, implemented the Kimble Applications platform to modernize their services. By automating document assembly and means testing with AI, Sosa shared they reduced the time spent on each case by over 40%. He remarked, "With our limited budget and small staff, this is revolutionary. We can now help so many more people get access to justice."
For attorneys in private practice, AI analytics have proven game-changing. Litigator Amanda Chen integrates tools like Lex Machina into her workflow. "I save so much time now preparing for hearings and oral arguments," Chen explained. "With a few clicks, I get a comprehensive analysis of the judge"s history on specific issues and likely leanings. This allows me to tailor our arguments and strategy."
Corporate lawyer Robert Smith described how AI contract review has accelerated his team"s deal-making. "I used to have a whole department just redlining agreements line by line. But now we use an AI tool called Evisort that scans documents in seconds and pulls out key clauses for review. It"s fast, accurate, and frees my team for more high-value work."
Legal tech entrepreneur Melanie Stevens launched a virtual law firm called Mecha Lawyer to provide affordable access to AI legal tools. "We're driven by a social mission to open doors for those who can't afford legal help," said Stevens. "Our AI chatbot handles common legal questions 24/7 while our team handles more complex matters at fixed rates."
For government agencies, AI efficiency gains have expanded services. The UK tax authority leveraged an AI tool that increased document processing tenfold. Thanks to this surge in productivity, taxpayers now benefit from both lower costs and better enforcement. An official concluded, "We are identifying far more undeclared income with fewer staff."
Of course, integrating AI does come with challenges. "There is a learning curve," noted litigator Amanda Chen. "It takes time to build trust in AI predictions and learn to use them effectively." Corporate lawyer Robert Smith also found conveying AI benefits to clients initially difficult but improved with demonstrations of faster turnaround.