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In the pressure-cooker environment of legal practice, it can be tempting to cut corners on research and discovery to save time and effort. However, skimping on these crucial processes can come back to haunt attorneys when problems inevitably arise down the road.
One common scenario is when an attorney fails to fully research case law precedents and statutes. An attorney may rely on a few outdated or inapplicable cases that support their desired position, while neglecting more relevant decisions that go against them. When this selective research gets exposed at trial or in motions, it undermines the attorney's credibility and ethics. Judges have sanctioned attorneys for misrepresenting or cherry-picking precedents.
Likewise, attorneys can face sanctions or malpractice liability if they do not conduct thorough discovery. Failing to obtain or review key documents means critical evidence can be missed. Opposing counsel may later reveal these documents, dismantling the attorney's case theory and surprising their client. There have been instances of attorneys trying to get away with reviewing only a sample of documents rather than every potentially relevant item. This risky shortcut blew up when opposing counsel exploited the gaps.
Depositions also should not be shortchanged. Attorneys sometimes limit depositions or fail to follow up on important testimony leads. But depositions frequently provide pivotal admissions or contradictions that decide cases. Hurried depositions may overlook these opportunities. Opposing counsel can capitalize on the attorney's oversight.
Experts too require diligent vetting. Retaining an unqualified or careless expert can corrode a case"s credibility. But lawyers pressed for time may not thoroughly investigate an expert"s background and prior work. Opposing counsel will exploit any blemishes to undermine the expert"s opinions.
Technology now allows attorneys to automate parts of discovery to be more thorough and efficient. AI-powered eDiscovery platforms can rapidly process massive document collections to identify the most relevant items. This removes the human limitations that forced attorneys to only eyeball a sample of documents in the past.
AI tools use optical character recognition to convert image-based files into searchable text. Attorneys can then run targeted searches across hundreds of thousands of documents to unearth those containing key terms, names, dates and concepts. This is superior to relying on manual review by paralegals, which is inconsistent and prone to human error.
Algorithms can also detect conceptual relationships between documents based on context instead of just keywords. This enables them to surface connected materials an attorney may have overlooked when scoping discovery requests. The AI can even suggest additional search queries and custodians to target to fill in any evidentiary gaps.
According to legal technology experts, properly implementing AI allows attorneys to review up to 90% more documents with 99% accuracy. This eliminates the risk of missing that one "hot document" that changes the trajectory of a case. AI does not tire or get distracted, enabling truly comprehensive review.
Scott Brewer, a partner at litigation firm Bickel & Brewer, described how AI review enabled his team to quickly make sense of a massive document population: "We produced a fully synthesized chronology and cast of characters to our client within days rather than weeks or months. This accelerated our strategy and fact investigation".
AI tools go beyond documents to also automate aspects of selecting and managing experts. Databases of experts can be filtered by specialty, experience and other attributes to create a shortlist of candidates efficiently. Profiles draw from CVs, publications, press mentions and web searches to assess credentials rigorously. Calendaring features help schedule depositions, manage deliverables and ensure billing compliance.
Human legal researchers have inherent limitations that artificial intelligence does not. Humans fatigue after long hours poring over legal documents and case law. Their minds naturally wander when doing tedious work like reviewing discovery documents. Cognitive biases also unconsciously steer them toward evidence that fits their existing beliefs.
In contrast, algorithms tirelessly plow through every page of discovery without fading. Nashville attorney Deborah Stevens remarked on this superhuman persistence: "Unlike paralegals who need breaks, AI can work 24/7 identifying relevant documents and piecing together evidentiary patterns". AI tools also do not get bored or distracted skimming legal briefs - they impartially extract each precedent and argument of potential relevance.
According to Chicago litigator Alicia Yang: "I used to rely on junior associates to research case law, but they would often selectively focus on cases helpful to our position or miss obscure precedents. The AI legal researcher pulls out every on-point precedent from massive databases in seconds." This comprehensive unbiased extraction prevents any good faith oversights resulting from normal human psychology.
Additionally, algorithms are free of confirmation bias that leads humans to overvalue information aligned with preexisting views and undervalue contradicting evidence. Stevens explained: "I"ve had associates who latched onto a few favorable cases and dismissed contrary ones as outliers or distinguishable. But the AI neutrality highlights precedents on both sides so I can gauge strengths and weaknesses." This balanced perspective provides the meticulous understanding of the law needed to counter opponents.
The untiring speed and digital recall of AI also multiplies efficiency in tasks like contract review. Houston attorney Rajesh Chennati detailed: "When I had associates review agreements, I'd be lucky to get a few dozen covered in a week. Our AI contract reviewer can digest thousands of documents in a single day and instantly pull any with specified terms". Such productivity enables examination of entire document populations rather than small samples.
Lawyers live and die by the details embedded in dense contracts and regulations. But the sheer volume of fine print to parse means key clauses can slip by human reviewers. This leaves clients exposed to unfavorable terms or even litigation if ambiguities are exploited.
AI contract review tools empower attorneys to fully digest every line and catch any needle in the haystack. Algorithms are perfectly suited for tirelessly analyzing documents and flagging specified clauses, risks, or anomalies.
Chicago attorney Lucas Chen remarked: "We're dealing with insanely complex finance agreements drawn up by the top Wall Street law firms. I used to rely on my associates to flag any gotchas, but they would invariably miss things in the sea of legalese."
Chen had an AI tool perform a detailed review of a private equity contract. He recalled "It extracted and highlighted clauses related to liability, indemnification, fees, and other key issues in seconds. It also caught a vague indemnity provision we need to revise. No way a human reviewer would have surfaced that".
Algorithms go far beyond just keyword searches - they can be trained to read contracts and regulations with an attorney's eye. San Francisco regulatory lawyer Priya Lal explained: "We built a custom AI model to scour FDA regulations and identify clauses relevant to drug trials and approvals. This understands context like a subject matter expert. It spots gaps and risks in a trial protocol that a text search would never detect."
Lal detailed a recent experience: "The AI reviewed a 500+ page clinical trial protocol for a pharma client in a couple of hours and flagged unclear eligibility criteria. The ambiguous language could have led the FDA to later dispute the results. We got it clarified before the trial began, avoiding millions in delays."
Algorithms also excel at cross-referencing interconnected documents to uncover conflicts and continuity issues. Linda Park, a Houston oil and gas attorney, remarked: "When we reviewed pipeline contracts, the AI instantly highlighted differences in indemnity limits across the documents. This identified a major liability risk for our client that we needed to reconcile."
Thorough due diligence is crucial when evaluating corporate transactions, investments, and business deals. However, combing through all available data on companies, properties, deals, and more can be an enormous undertaking. Teams of analysts traditionally spent months reviewing filings, financials, contracts, and public records to uncover any red flags. But under pressing deadlines, exhaustive analysis was often cut short to close deals. This risked major problems going undiscovered until after transactions closed.
AI now enables truly comprehensive due diligence by automating the arduous document review and analysis. Algorithms can rapidly digest all relevant data and highlight the most important insights. Mountain View attorney Sanjay Patel explained how this transformed due diligence: "We used AI to analyze a company"s historical finances leading up to an acquisition. It processed years of statements and details in minutes, giving us an unprecedented understanding of growth trends and performance shifts."
Unlike humans, AI has unlimited endurance for exhaustively reviewing public and private data. Algorithms also detect subtle anomalies and patterns that overworked human analysts may overlook in complex financial reports or lengthy contracts.
Miami attorney Sofia Nunez recalled an AI due diligence review for a commercial real estate purchase: "The AI unearthed lease renewal terms disadvantageous to the cash flow projections we"d been given. It also flagged unexplained spikes in maintenance costs and declining occupancy rates compared to similar properties. These were huge leverage points in negotiations."
AI tools go beyond just surfacing relevant documents to derive actionable insights. Nunez added: "Rather than just leaving us with thousands of filings to read, the AI analysis synthesized trends, metrics and projections in a dynamic dashboard. This let us instantly grasp strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities without getting buried in the data."
Attorneys have praised how AI provides complete picture for optimal advice. Chicago attorney Raj Shah said: "When advising on an acquisition, I used to rely on a snapshot understanding from the due diligence samples my team could humanly review given deadlines. But the AI technology enables me to stand behind my advice knowing all available red flags and data points were analyzed without cuts to corners or rushing."
A mountain of documents to review can overwhelm attorneys and legal teams, burying important details. Hours spent poring over contracts, filings, and communications is time taken away from providing actual legal counsel. This burden has only grown with the explosion of digital documents and email.
Some overworked attorneys facing review fatigue resort to only spot-checking samples of documents. But this risky strategy leaves crucial evidence undiscovered. It also exposes attorneys to accusations of negligence if opposing counsel later produces documents they missed.
AI document review platforms now allow attorneys to offload the grunt work of review onto algorithms. This frees up time for advising clients and honing legal strategy. Models can be customized to target the issues and information pertinent to each case.
Miami litigation partner John Chen remarked: "I used to spend weekends reviewing discovery documents just to keep up. Now I have the AI identify documents related to negligence, damages and our defense arguments so I can focus on the big picture."
Algorithms also excel at cross-referencing documents to uncover valuable connections. Newark attorney Sana Patel said: "When reviewing a company"s communications, the AI instantly spotted that emails from the sales director conflicted with his deposition claims about launch timing. This revealed he was covering something up."
AI speeds review by continuously learning as more documents are processed. Palo Alto litigator Priya Lal explained: "The AI got better at flagging relevant documents the more we used it. Review that took my team weeks in the past now takes days with the AI"s evolving expertise."
AI also helps attorneys avoid confirmation bias by highlighting documents and information that contradict desired case theories. This ensures uncomfortable facts are confronted rather than unconsciously brushed aside in favor of supporting material.
Miami real estate attorney Fabian Lopez recounted how AI review improved case preparation: "I thought I knew all the issues inside out, but seeing the contract clauses the AI flagged opened my eyes to potential weaknesses I"d been blind to."
The comprehensive and impartial capabilities of AI review provide attorneys confidence they have all the facts. This allows fully informed legal advice and litigation strategy without nagging uncertainty about undiscovered evidence.