In 2012, a magistrate judge ruled that predictive coding was an acceptable form of conducting discovery. Previously, lawyers had to wait around for judicial approval to use computer-assisted review to search for electronically stored information pertaining to their cases. This ruling was just one milestone along the way to making data more accessible to lawyers.
E-discovery has turned litigation on its head by speeding up the investigation process and giving lawyers more time to focus on their clients’ needs. There are several different apps and other online legal resources that expedite document review, produce basic contracts and forms and create comprehensive breakdowns of tasks. In fact, some technology is so advanced that many fear software will replace lawyers. Yet, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, data harvesting apps are capable of doing only around 23 percent of a lawyer’s job. In fact, most programs are designed to make a lawyer’s job easier. These are a few of the data mining apps that are changing the traditional way lawyering is done:
Nexis is the internet’s most coveted search engine that contains archived articles and cases only previously found in microfilm. Through regular use, this indexing tool builds up relevancy rankings depending on search patterns, matching terms and file characteristics. Its algorithms also help lawyers figure out whether or not to take on a case. In 2015, Nexis acquired Lex Machina Inc., a program that creates organized data sets from public records systems to help lawyers predict the outcomes of cases and create litigation strategies based on the system’s ability to mine, tag and categorize federal court dockets and documents. Westlaw, Nexis’s competitor, offers many of the same features along with various citation formats for pasting into documents. Both programs offer precise details of state laws and provide annotated versions of both state and federal statutes, regulations and some state codes.
A magic wand for patent lawyers, this SaaS company collects U.S. patent office data and identifies the number of pending, approved and abandoned patent applications. It also gives lawyers a first-hand look at previous actions taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office so that they can strategize and curate their application to the specific examiner reviewing their client’s patent application.
One of the latest moves to bring artificial intelligence to the legal industry comes from RAVN Systems, a group of London-based AI specialists. Their new product Extract isn’t even a year old yet, but it is poised to revolutionize the legal industry with its robot that can summarize, analyze, and draw out specific information from documents in a matter of minutes. Extract’s robot can decipher and analyze documents pertaining to all legal spheres from real estate to contract forms and financial records.
The new legal researcher who just joined the practice isn’t a recent law school graduate — its name is Ross, and it’s a robot. This AI machine powered by IBM Watson uses deep learning to produce answers to literally any kind of legal query. Ross takes seconds to procure material pertaining to specific cases or other litigation that would take any human lawyer hours or days to uncover. The more you use Ross, the smarter it gets. With each answer, Ross provides a list of sources, and users can rate the information’s accuracy with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” This user interaction enables Ross to become increasingly sophisticated so that it will gradually come up with stronger answers the more it’s used.