New Tech in the Legal Field
The principal area of new technology that is impacting the legal field is AI which can enable legal teams to work more efficiently by automating the more mundane, routine but costly tasks so that lawyers can focus on the more complex issues. Applications of AI in the legal field include legal research, due diligence, e-discovery and legal analytics and prediction. Blockchain technology is being adopted at a slower pace with smart contracts, secured documents and notarization the applications identified. Below you will find an overview of 8 legal applications of emerging technologies, the company or companies that are developing these applications, and links to further information.
AI in Legal Research
AI can be used to “review and categorize large bodies of documents”, which is a large part of most legal cases. Loom Analytics “creates data mining and visualization products”, its latest being a SaaS platform called Structura which performs data mining for claims and settlements cases. Structura organizes data that is found spread across separate spreadsheet and text files, in order for the client to extract the required business intelligence therein.
Data Privacy Advisor is a solution that is powered AI and was created in conjunction with IBM Watson specifically relating to data privacy research. It consists of data privacy guidance and news, plus it can respond to data privacy compliance queries. ROSS Intelligence offers AI power legal research tools which “enhance lawyer’s abilities” which is also powered by IBM Watson. Judicata offers research and analytics tools that assist lawyers in transforming “unstructured court opinions into structured data” using case law parsing.
AI in e-Discovery
This is normally a labor intensive and therefore costly part of legal cases, when both parties must review all documentation used by the counter-party in the legal action. AI is used to perform the initial review, or to narrow down the volume of documents to those that are most relevant.
DISCO, created by Cs Disco Inc., claims to speed up the e-discovery process using AI to comprehend what is relevant to the case, reviewing the documents “taking into account the order, meaning of words, and sentence structure” in order to determine if relevant or not.
Other companies that offer e-discovery products powered by AI are Brainspace, Relativity, Everlaw, and TextIQ.
AI in Contract Review Automation
The use of AI to review less complex contracts is central to the offering from LawGeex, which claims their software allow lawyers to “automatically review and approve everyday business contracts”. They recently tested their software by challenging 20 experienced lawyers to compete with “the LawGeex Artificial Intelligence algorithm” in reviewing agreements, specifically NDAs. LawGeex returned a 94% accuracy rate, compared to an average of 85% for the human lawyers.
Other companies that offer similar automated contract review software based on AI technology are ThoughtRiver  and Legal Robot.
AI in Contract Due Diligence
“AI due diligence engines” can quickly analyze applicable compliance rules to speed up M&A deals, often shortening these routine tasks by 20-40% and making firms more competitive.
As of February 2018, Luminance had already been used in over 200 transactions in 16 countries. The platform uses “a combination of supervised and unsupervised machine learning” to review agreements, highlighting anomalies and tagging important contract features to allow lawyers to navigate documents more quickly.
Leverton provides contract due diligence within their contract management platform which uses “AI algorithms [to] extract the relevant information, review the extracted data and access a structured data repository”. It has been used by the Munich office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in “accelerated real estate transaction for leading German investment company Conren Land AG”, who appreciated an update to the software at the end of 2017 which presents results in a more lawyer-friendly Word format instead of Excel. LegalSifter offers similar products that use machine learning and natural language processing to assist with “manage[ment of] legal obligations and opportunities” by transforming unstructured collections of terms and conditions into "structured data and insights."
Other companies that offer contract due diligence products are Seal Software, Ravn, and Kira Systems.
AI in Legal Analytics and Prediction
By analyzing a database of historic legal outcomes and legal reference information, AI tools are able to predict the outcome of a specific case. Patterns in the way judges rule can be detected and provide additional insight that improves a lawyer’s odds of success.
Ravel Law is “a legal search, analytics, and visualization platform” which locates and contextualizes information to provide insights of use to the legal team. Premonition offers data-driven tools including legal analytics, built on “the world’s largest litigation database”. Data analysis of case information in conjunction with this litigation database can help predict likely case outcome and which lawyers are most likely to succeed. Gavelytics makes similar data-driven prediction on outcomes "by tracking how each judge tends to rule on over 100 types of motions", and at the start of March 2018 announced that it had raised $3.2m in funding from investors.
Other companies that offer similar AI-driven analytics software used in the legal field are Intraspexion, LexPredict, and Docket Alarm.
Blockchain in Contracts
Blockchain technology is being used to generate smart contracts, that self-execute based “upon predefined triggers”. OpenLaw is a blockchain-based tool that allows lawyers to automatically create agreements and embed smart contracts, claiming to significantly reduce the time it takes to finalize an agreement. Rather than never-ending rounds of drafting, comments and renegotiation the draft contract becomes “a menu of acceptable options and clauses”, which the counter-party can then choose, updating the contract automatically.
Blockchain in Secured Documents
As a tamper-proof, digital ledger, blockchain technology has been used by Integra Ledger "to increase the integrity of legal documents" by using permissioned blockchain to record information using "blockchain-based identities".
Blockchain in Notarization
Rather than using physical verification of signatures performed by notaries, Blocknotary stores a “digital fingerprint” on the blockchain. Instead of an old-school rubber stamp by a notary, Blocknotary offers digital "timestamps and fingerprints for media files" which so far is currently recognized in the state of Vermont.
New technology is being used in various ways in the legal field to enable lawyers to work more efficiently and effectively. AI is applied via tools for legal research, e-discovery, contract review and due diligence, and legal analytics and predictions. Many companies are offering these types of products, and law firms are already using them. Blockchain is currently trailing AI in terms of adoption in the legal field, and although it appears to have potential, currently there are limited products using the technology and companies developing them.