artificial intelligence and legal sector

In this article Vidisha Indalkar, a student from D.E.S’s Shri Navalmal Firodia Law College, Pune discusses on whether the Inception of Artificial Intelligence into legal field will mark the end of lawyers or the beginning?

“Anything that could give rise to smarter-than-human intelligence—in the form of Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or neuroscience-based human intelligence enhancement – wins hands down beyond contest as doing the most to change the world. Nothing else is even in the same league.” —Eliezer Yudkowsky


The 20th century saw the brink of a technological revolution that changed the most intricate patterns of human functioning in revolutionary ways. Everything from international personal communication to international business trading is attainable at one’s fingertips. Now we are in the midst of the next chapter of technology and innovation as the machines become smarter, almost smarter than humans perhaps. This new technology is called Artificial intelligence. In fact, artificial intelligence imitates the working of a human brain in data processing data and creating patterns for use in decision making. It also has a function called machine learning which is a self-adaptive algorithm that gets better and better analysis and patterns with experience or with newly added data.[1] This enables the software to correct itself and increase the accuracy rate every time new information is fed into the system. In simple words, it works similarly to a newborn, by learning how to identify and use things and adapt according to new experiences. Indeed like evolution in human beings!

Artificial Intelligence has entered to aid not only the science and technology sector but also commercial, health, business sector and so on. All traditional lawyers are disinclined to believe that artificial intelligence can take up the legal profession too; it has successfully entered especially in the western countries. But Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, one of India’s topmost firms stated in its recent press release about the adoption of KIRA[2] an AI software, marking the beginning of AI’s adoption in India’s legal society. Gradually the competitors will adopt AI to increase the work efficiency and to be at par with each other leading to the revolution in the legal industry. The question now arises how is it going to affect the core profession; the lawyer? What the AI primarily offer is an easier way to research. It is built on a database containing millions of cases, contracts, judgements that are processed in minutes to find the most relevant result. However, India is on an initial stage of this technology but the question remains does it pose a considerable threat to the profession of a lawyer?

Meaning of Artificial Intelligence


“The ability of machines to perceive, to reason, to plant, to act and more and more the ability of machine to learn.”[3] John McCarthy first coined the term artificial intelligence in 1956 when he invited a group of researchers from a variety of disciplines including language simulation, neuron nets, complexity theory and more to a summer workshop called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence to discuss what would ultimately become the field of AI. At that time, the researchers came together to clarify and develop the concepts around “thinking machines” which up to this point had been quite divergent. McCarthy is said to have picked the name artificial intelligence for its neutrality; to avoid highlighting one of the tracks being pursued at the time for the field of “thinking machines” that included cybernetics, automata theory and complex information processing. The proposal for the conference said, “The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.”[4] In simple words AI is the technology that performs tasks that normally a human is capable of doing.

Artificial Intelligence Tools


In a lawyer’s day at work, in a particular case, the lawyer has to spend an immense amount of time in drudge work of just skimming through hundreds of books, judgements and cases. AI aims at automating this process.

Contract review

Any law firm or individual attorney wastes a lot of their work time in reviewing their contracts. Especially in big law firms, they are multiple steps and levels of lawyers that go through the contract.  In-house legal departments can spend 50% of their time reviewing contracts even as basic as a Non-Disclosure Agreement, creating unnecessary bottlenecks and slowing down business and deals[5]. It takes days to get just the contract finalized and another few weeks for negotiating and finalizing the terms and deals. Similarly, AI engines help out in following services:

Contract due diligence


Intellectual property

Expertise automation


Legal analytics

Prediction technology

Legal AI Landscape – LawGeex

Its ill-effects to Legal sector

Since the beginning of time, technology has been aiding humans to automize time-consuming labour that has been restricting time efficiency in various ways. Artificial Intelligence in law is also doing the same; relieving lawyers of the drudge work and saving their time and unnecessary effort. When a young lawyer joins a firm or starts practising he has to go through his juniorship or some lawyers intern first and then start the work as a fully functioning lawyer. So in these initial stages, lawyers are handed with the more manual kind of work like researching, due- diligence and contract review. With the emergence of AI the baseline workers of the law pyramid-like these or for example the legal clerks, paralegals, assistants are at high risk of getting replaced by technology. Another problem that could arise is, the senior or experienced lawyers in the country now have been shaped by those early years of research and hence their brain traits have been trained to respond to cases and legal issues with a specific in a pattern. These lawyers will find it hard to cope with the new technology and if the firms try to incorporate these software into their legal strategy as a result of the competitive market and cost-effective results from firms with these technologies. They will be rigid with assuming their reallocation of roles and hence create problems in the firm and its working. Soon it may turn into a rookie-tech-savvy-lawyers against the senior advocates with experience war.

As enthralling as the idea of AI sounds almost all the lawyers have barely a faint idea of how all of it works. So the control will lie in the hands of the techies providing these services. In the event of any IT problems occurring in the programs, they will be found helpless and this may amount to a considerable loss to not only the goodwill of the firm but also cause an irreparable damage to the lives of their clients. But regardless the major problem still lies in the privacy of the cases of the lawyers’ clients. The attorney-client privilege can be at high risk with the rising AI privacy issues. Anybody who can hack into the systems or dishonesty by the service providers is something that could result in major problems.

Advantages to Legal sector

The question is not “Will Artificial intelligence mark the end or beginning of law profession? The question is “how are we going to use Artifical Intelligence to make ourselves more productive at work?”

Rather than concentrating on the obvious advantages and numbers as discussed in the application of AI to law, there are much wider uses of its involvement in this sector that need to be considered. When it comes to contracts, we have to deal with them in almost all cases from boarding a bus to signing an employee contract. For these small issues approaching lawyers is too much of an expensive adventure and when it comes to doing it on our own there is high risk involved. Due to various Artificial Intelligence software available in the market people will make better choices in day to day functions and will be saved from being prone to risks of lawsuits or injustice.

In India, thousands of people cannot afford legal services while some of them have access to poor quality state-funded clinics and hence they are victim to injustice and is contributing the national loss of confidence in the justice system. Darwin, a town in California, has an office where once a lawyer may have sat behind a desk at the law firm but now is a user-friendly system called Ailira, which is short for Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant. It can help clients with consumer legal advice from wills to business structuring and asset protection, as well as tax professionals for tax law research. With a few clicks of a button, a client can enter their details and will then be asked a few simple questions by Ailira, before the robot generates a fully certified will. Similarly in the small towns in India or the socially backward all over the country can benefit on a large scale by AI. This would reduce the injustice rate and also the due to the fear of faster prosecution now due to the entry of these technologies the crime and tort rate will subsidise too.

Law is one of the oldest profession in the world and when it comes to law in India it has been dolled up with cobwebs of outdated and traditional methods that need to be changed. The emergence of faster research, due diligence, etc technology can hence reduce menial work to almost nothing giving the advocated opportunity to concentrate on other skills like strategy and arguments. This will not just remove defects in the lawyers’ work and help in more effective and improved manifestation of his legal skill and knowledge.

As legal and health sectors are services only available by highly educated professional it is impossible to question their service or look for other alternatives. People who have no other alternative and are in serious trouble usually come to these professionals as a last resort and are willing to put all their faith into them. They have no way of assuring the quality of services rendered. Especially in the legal field, there is a high amount of opaqueness in the procedures and judgements with respect to clients’ perception. With AI in prediction analysis and automated techniques, clients can keep tabs on the advancement in their case and will give them mental peace in such hard times.

Underperformance is another trait that traditional lawyers contain. Due to loads of dull work and long working hours they are drained of energy and ability to deal with situations. Lawyers need to be on point with thinking on their feet but with all these limitations the resulting success rate is considerably lesser. With the contract review software or other like that the future risks and loopholes in the suit are predicted beforehand. Hence AI solves this major problem faced by lawyers.


After the descriptive analysis of what Artificial Intelligence is and how it is going to influence the life of a lawyer the question still remains will it mark the end of the profession? The answer lies in this book title ‘Fight with the machine, not against the machine’. After the launch of Artificial Intelligence market in one of India’s best firms, it will be like an onset of dominos and AI will spread like wildfire into all firms as a result of competitive spirit and desire to indulge within vogue cost and time effective solutions to render the best and fair priced legal services. This change is happening regardless of whether we accept that a tech-storm coming or not. So the question remains how to overcome this challenge?

Given below is the para-professional model, the classic model of law. People call it as the broad base triangle. The junior lawyers at the bottom while the deep experts at the top. Conventional wisdom has it that what will happen with AI is that the machines will take up tasks from the bottom up.

Para-professional model
Para-professional model

But with the artificial intelligence giant, IBM Watson they see it as a different model like given on the right. Imagine in health, for example, a diagnostic Watson system outstrips the human expert but you still want someone offering human empathy so the apex that is the diagnosis power comes from machines and the interpersonal service will be delivered by nurses. So a nurse with Watson will outperform a human empathetic counterpart and also the knowledge and experience rich professional[6].

Similarly, in law, the internal personal tasks appearing in court and arguing against the opponent along with client counselling will be the tasks still assumed by lawyers. when it comes to young lawyers and law secretaries going out of job, it is all the more reason to make the most out of it because senior law firms can become cost-effective by letting these people go. They can keep just the top professionals and senior lawyers and make the best use of their time and money whereas the beginner lawyers and use this technology to attain the greatest heights as all the expertise and confidence offered by experienced lawyers can be attained through this technology. So there are revolutionary methods waiting to be put in use as Artificial Intelligence is going to bring in new start-ups of law firms by young tech-savvy lawyers and it is going to raise the bar of competition with its new ways. As AI sweeps up the old unnecessary jobs they will also bring in new jobs with them. The inauguration of AI will revolutionize the way of thinking and challenge the legal minds to improve our old system of law and finally help the judicial society attain new levels of success. So really if lawyers try to incorporate AI into their profession they will make an unbeatable pair which will take us into the new law era. “Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.”[7]


[1] Definition of deep learning

[2] Kian Ganz, Cyril Amarchand ‘first’ to sign up for machine learning contracts software, but is AI the death or future of lawyers?, Tuesday, 31 January 2017

[3] I refer to the video by United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 12 Sep 2017

[4]Bernard Marr, The Key Definitions Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) That Explain Its Importance

[5] I refer to the article for statistics a multiple times in various subtopics Jonathan Marciano, AUTOMATING THE LAW: A LANDSCAPE OF LEGAL AI SOLUTIONS

[6] I refer to a video by Richard Susskind, Artificial Intelligence and the Law Conference at Vanderbilt Law School

[7] Ginni Rometty, Forbes.



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