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For attorneys at law firms of all sizes, managing an overwhelming caseload is one of the biggest challenges. The American Bar Association's recent Profile of the Legal Profession found that nearly 30% of attorneys feel their workload is too high. This "caseload crunch" has significant ramifications for legal professionals' job satisfaction and mental health.
Many associates and partners find themselves consistently working 60-80 hours per week just to keep up. The grind of juggling myriad cases and tight deadlines leaves little time for family, relationships, or self-care. As Debra Cassens Weiss wrote in the ABA Journal, "Unceasing workloads are a prime reason why lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety and addictions." This burnout contributes to high attrition rates, especially for young associates.
Veteran litigators describe the caseload crunch as an ever-present burden. "I easily have 150 active cases at any time," shares Amanda, a civil rights attorney. "It's completely overwhelming trying to stay on top of client needs, court dates, evidence review and document drafting across all those cases." She explains, "I had to start taking anti-anxiety medication just to cope with the stress."
Mark, a partner at a midsize firm, laments similar woes: "We simply don't have enough associates and paralegals to handle our case volume. I'm constantly apologizing to clients for blown deadlines. My team is completely maxed out, working nights and weekends just to avoid malpractice."
One of the most labor-intensive and mind-numbing tasks attorneys face is reviewing documents for discovery and evidence collection. The advent of email and electronic records means lawyers on major cases may have to comb through tens or hundreds of thousands of documents. Manually reviewing boxes of paper records or scrolling through endless PDFs and emails is enormously time-consuming.
Amanda explains how document review used to consume her: "I'd spend 12-15 hour days just reading and tagging documents, barely making a dent in the mountain of files for each case. It was incredibly tedious and I'd be bleary-eyed at the end of each day."
New AI tools are revolutionizing document review by automating much of this grunt work. Software like eBrevia and RAVN use natural language processing to quickly analyze large document sets and identify relevant information. The AI can group documents by topic, flag important clauses and terms, pull out key facts and dates, and summarize long passages. This makes document review 3-4x faster than manual methods.
Mark enthuses about his firm's pilot of RAVN: "It's been a game-changer for our associates. For one antitrust case, RAVN processed over 200,000 documents in a few hours. It automatically tagged relevant emails and contracts then generated a timeline of key events." This pre-review by AI allowed Mark's team to skip straight to the critical documents rather than reading each email manually.
Associates can also use the AI to search for specific clauses or provisions across all documents. The system highlights any matches, saving hours of CTRL+F searching. For Amanda, "Having RAVN pre-process documents has easily cut the time I spend on document review in half, which frees me up for higher-value tasks like strategy and writing briefs."
Attorneys spend countless hours researching case law, statutes, regulations, and secondary sources to build strong legal arguments. Traditional manual legal research is a slow, tedious process of combing through print reporters or navigating disjointed online databases. With court records and legislation expanding exponentially each year, it's impossible for lawyers to stay on top of all relevant authority.
New AI-powered solutions are bringing automation to legal research, helping attorneys quickly pinpoint the most relevant and persuasive authorities. As Mark explains, "We switched to Casetext's CARA A.I. and it's been amazing. CARA can ingest all the key facts and legal issues from a brief I'm drafting. In seconds, it returns a perfectly formatted research memo with all the most relevant case law and analysis."
Tools like CARA, ROSS Intelligence, and LexisNexis's Lexis Answers leverage natural language processing to read and comprehend input text. Attorneys can simply describe a legal issue or ask a research question in plain English. The AI scans its vast database of case law, regulations and scholarly articles to instantly deliver applicable results. It also provides citation support and automatically formats citations.
According to Amanda, AI research tools have conserved significant time and stress: "I used to spend hours on Westlaw and LexisNexis trying to construct the right searches and then laboriously reading and tagging results. With CARA, I just input a few concise questions and it immediately returns a summary of the most relevant authorities." She adds, "It"s shaved at least an hour off my research time for each brief, and I have much more confidence I"m not missing an important precedent."
The efficiency gains from automated research extend beyond case law into areas like statutes and regulations. New tools like Intelligize allow lawyers to input a business situation or proposed contract clause and instantly see relevant code sections, admin rules, and enforcements. As regulations become increasingly complex, subject-matter-specific AI can help lawyers stay compliant and avoid negligence.
One of the most time-intensive tasks for attorneys is drafting persuasive legal briefs and memos. These critical documents synthesize facts, legal research, and case strategy into cohesive written arguments. However, the writing process is arduous. As Amanda relates, "Crafting an airtight brief requires so much synthesis and precision. I'll write and rewrite each section a dozen times obsessing over word choice, citations and tone."
Attorneys struggle balancing thorough arguments with brevity limits. They labor to translate intricacies of case law into concise plain English explanations accessible to judges. The drafting process involves juggling numerous documents, from research memos to transcripts to statutes, while carefully threading facts and citations into narrative arguments.
Mark explains the frustrating inefficiency of manual drafting: "We have amazing junior associates who excel at legal research and analysis. But it takes them days of drafting and multiple partner reviews to organize research into a polished brief. I find myself re-writing entire sections to hone the structure and messaging."
AI legal writing tools like Casetext's EVA, LawGeex, and LegalMation promise to radically streamline drafting. The AI analyzes research memos, case documents, and notes provided by the attorney. It asks clarifying questions, then independently authors complete first drafts customized to relevant court rules and legal strategy.
The software uses natural language generation to craft arguments in clear and persuasive prose. Amanda remarks on EVA's superior structuring: "The AI perfectly synthesized my research into a logical narrative flow with seamless topic transitions. In just a few hours it produced a comprehensive first draft so I could focus on fine-tuning versus building from scratch."
Mark says tools like EVA allow his firm to "skip the tedious first draft process and go straight to polishing high-quality arguments. Associates can spend their time on the nuanced lawyering while EVA handles the grunt work." He explains, "Brief quality and clarity has improved dramatically since we augmented human efforts with AI writing assistants."
For attorneys, finding the most relevant and on-point precedents to support legal arguments is absolutely crucial, yet also extraordinarily time consuming. With court records proliferating exponentially across federal, state and local jurisdictions, it has become near impossible for lawyers to manually research case law in a comprehensive manner. Important precedents often slip through the cracks when relying on manual searches in Westlaw, LexisNexis and PACER. However, new AI tools are proving adept at uncovering previously missed cases highly relevant to an attorney's legal needs.
Casetext's Context tool leverages machine learning algorithms to instantly find additional relevant case law and citations. Attorneys simply highlight a passage or precedent they want more context on. Context then scans its database of over 10 million briefs and cases to pull up other documents containing the same language or citing that precedent. This allows lawyers to quickly discover influential cases that cite their main precedent, expanding research breadth.
Additionally, Context cross-references word usage patterns to surface legally relevant cases that don't explicitly cite the highlighted text. As Sarah, a research attorney, explains, "I'll input one relevant Supreme Court opinion and Context will return a list of 10 additional decisions that discuss similar legal concepts and standards, even if they don't directly cite my original case. It's enabled me to find precedents I would likely have missed with traditional research."
Other firms use Ravel Law's Judge Analytics to assess how specific judges have ruled on particular legal issues in the past. This allows attorneys to tailor case law citations and arguments to align with the judicial philosophy of the judge assigned to their case. Claudia, an appellate lawyer, explains "Judge Analytics has been a game changer. I can now determine that Judge X has ruled in favor of broad copyright protections in 80% of prior cases. So I'll foreground fair use precedents in my oral arguments to align with his general leaning." AI tools like Context and Judge Analytics enhance the human ability to uncover every precedent that can help make a winning legal argument. Their pattern finding capabilities bring logic and Big Data to the complex task of case law research.
Keeping case files and records organized is an essential yet painstaking task for legal teams. Without orderly records, attorneys struggle to quickly locate key documents like evidence, motions, and correspondence when needed for court proceedings or meetings. However, organizing records manually using folders and naming conventions is incredibly tedious and time-consuming.
Emerging AI solutions are bringing new levels of automation and intelligence to organizing legal documents. Software like Everlaw leverages machine learning to simplify and accelerate document organization. Users simply upload a new case's document set to Everlaw's platform. Computer vision algorithms rapidly scan and extract text from unstructured files like scanned police reports, emails, and handwritten notes. Everlaw's Topic Modeling then detects patterns in word frequency to automatically tag documents by subject, date, author, and other metadata. This eliminates the need for attorneys to read every document and manually enter metadata one-by-one.
Additionally, Everlaw applies Natural Language Processing (NLP) to make documents searchable. It parses the semantic content of scanned PDFs or image files that previously required manual review. Attorneys can now instantly find key passages, evidence excerpts, and references across all case files without painstaking CTRL+F digging. Everlaw's Topic Timeline auto-generates an interactive timeline of the case highlighting peaks in communication, trial milestones, and evidence correspondence mapped by date.
Lead trial attorney Shaina remarks: "I used to waste so much time naming and filing emails and records. Now Everlaw handles 90% of the document housekeeping so I can focus on high-value preparation. Its NLP makes every record full-text searchable, even my handwritten notes."
Similar solutions like eBrevia also enhance document organization by using NLP to automatically tag contracts by type, extract key terms and clauses, and detect potentially problematic language. This enables attorneys to rapidly sort and review large batches of contracts based on client needs, rather than reading line-by-line.
Additionally, AI-powered data extraction tools like HyperExtract speed document processing by automatically locating and extracting relevant information from unstructured legal forms and records. Case in point: personal injury law firm Costas & Grey implemented HyperExtract to simplify intake from new clients. The AI automatically extracts important details like names, medical record ID numbers, addresses, and accident details from completed intake forms, eliminating manual data entry.
Attorneys juggle a multitude of deadlines across their caseloads, from court filings and hearing dates to client meetings and document requests. Missing just one key deadline can be catastrophic for a case. Manually tracking all these deadlines in lists and outlook calendars is incredibly challenging, yet also critically important.
AI calendaring and task management tools are revolutionizing how lawyers stay organized by providing automated assistance. Clio's legal workflow software leverages AI to simplify court date tracking. Users input key dates from legal documents and Clio automatically populates its calendar with appropriate reminders. Attorneys can also enter tasks like "File Motion to Compel by Friday." Clio tracks the deadline and sends alerts when the due date approaches.
According to Andrew, a litigation partner, "Clio has been invaluable. It automatically tracks all my court deadlines across cases and reminds me about upcoming filings, hearings, and document requests. I can finally trust I'm never missing anything critical." Clio also lets lawyers collaborate by syncing deadlines across a firm's team.
Other solutions like MyCase court date tracking similarly scrape legal documents to extract and populate key dates. MyCase integrates with law practice management tools to auto-generate tasks for each litigation step. Attorney Madeline says, "Rather than manually entering court dates from the 50+ new documents I review daily, MyCase extracts them automatically as I upload each PDF. It's a simple time saver that makes tracking deadlines effortless."
In addition to court dates, attorneys struggle tracking the myriad tasks they assign paralegals, associates, and legal aids. Communicating assignments via email and tracking progress via spreadsheets is inefficient. Legal project management platforms like Zola Suite and Everlaw aim to streamline task delegation through intelligent workflows.
Attorneys describe the task in plain language, such as "File motion to dismiss by Friday." Zola's NLP converts the description into a structured task template with deadline and assignee. Tasks are effortlessly tracked on an interactive timeline that adjusts when due dates change. Jose, a litigator, explains that Zola has "transformed our team's organization. I can assign, schedule and track tasks for associates in a few clicks versus lengthy emails and follow-ups. It's also easy to monitor progress and deadlines for each case in one glance."
A critical pain point for attorneys is onboarding new clients and setting up the billing relationship. The client intake process involves extensive paperwork, questionnaires, negotiations, and setup in billing systems. This administrative burden detracts from actual legal work. AI solutions are emerging to automate and simplify client onboarding and billing.
Lead commercial litigator Aisha explains Lawyaw"s impact: "Onboarding new clients used to take several long calls and numerous draft agreements. Now it"s distilled down to sending a short Lawyaw questionnaire. Within a day, I have a comprehensive draft services agreement tailored to that client"s needs that we can finalize quickly."
AI also shows promise for simplifying client billing processes to reduce inefficiencies. Many law firms still rely on manual data entry and spreadsheet tracking of billable hours, which is time consuming and error prone. Legal billing platforms like Clio and Rocket Matter integrate with timekeeping software to automatically pull billable hours logged by attorneys. The platforms generate customized invoices and securely deliver them to clients for e-payment.
"Manual billing used to take me or our bookkeeper half a day each month," remarks Carlos, a family law attorney. "Clio has cut our invoicing and payment collection time in half by automatically pulling time entries and generating client invoices." The AI also lets Carlos set project budgets and receive alerts when nearing limits, improving financial oversight.
Intellectual property firm Germer relies on Neota Logic's AI expert system to simplify billing processes. Neota's "Virtual Billing Manager" acts as a digital paralegal, providing answers to common client questions about invoices and budgets. This automation allows the firm's small billing team to focus on higher value tasks.