Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Legal System
By Adv Siddhant Mehta
What is AI?
From Siri, Alexa and other breakthrough softwares to self-driving cars, Artificial intelligence has evolved swiftly over the years. The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) as we know it, was devised in the year 1956 by an American computer scientist called John McCarthy as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”
AI could also be defined as “cognitive technologies. It is known to have many branches, with significant connections and commonalities among them. The most important fields are currently machine learning including deep learning and predictive analytics, natural language processing (NLP), comprising of translations, classification & clustering and information extraction.
Some AI programs train themselves, through trial and error whereas others need to be trained by humans feeding them data. At this point in advancement, researchers say it is good at finding items that meet human-defined criteria and detecting patterns in statistical information.
India on AI
AI is an emergent focus area of strategy development in India. The country’s provincial influence, expanding AI industry, and striving governmental initiatives around AI makes it an important influence to consider. Even as prevailing policy dealings anticipate the rapid advancement of AI for economic evolution and social good, a predominant inclination persists in India, and several other jurisdictions: the boundaries and perils of data-driven pronouncements still feature as retrospective contemplations for development and positioning of AI applications.
Government’s slant: The Government of India recognizes the latent market disruption that can result from AI and machine learning and has been keen on establishing a policy framework in order to exploit the constructive impact. Similarly, the interim budget for 2019 projected an allocation of upto US$ 57.4 million in order to fund the set up of a National Centre on AI, a national AI portal and 20 institutes of eminence for research and innovation. Subsequently, in June 2018, “NITI Aayog”, the government’s strategy think tank published a discussion paper on the “National Strategy for AI” which propagates AI’s outreach to general public. Both of these documents analyze the state of AI in India, recommend steps required for the development and utilization of AI, such as setting up dedicated inter-ministerial funds for AI-related activities, creating digital data banks, marketplaces and exchanges, and global participation in developing standards for AI systems.
At the same time, the government also proposed the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy, which provides businesses with access to a wide variety of scientific and technical data collected by the state.
Defence schemes: The Ministry of Defence authorized a US$ 10.6 million project for the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, a laboratory under the government’s Defence Research and Development Organization, for evolving signal intelligence solutions for improving the intelligence and analytical capabilities of the armed forces.
Data protection & privacy: The Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) & Anr. v. Union of India recognized the right to privacy being inclusive of informational privacy as a constitutionally protected fundamental right enforceable against the state. The Apex Court stressed the necessity for thorough data protection regulations. Consequently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology went ahead and published the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018. This Bill is significantly influenced by the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, proposing the establishment of a Data Protection Authority, stricter principles, and conditions and compliance requirements for processing personal data. It also provides for stringent penalties and enforces personal accountability on corporate officers for breaches.
The position of AI in public sector decision making has also been progressively growing across sectors such as judicial decision making, education, transportation and healthcare. The use of automated processing in electronic governance under the Digital India mission, domestic law enforcement agencies monitoring social media content and educational schemes is being discussed and gradually implemented. Much like the potential application of AI across sub-sectors, the nature of governing issues are also varied.
In a way forward in these apocalyptic times, the Supreme Court has digitized its records and procedure for the time being, which indeed will be a benchmark act as a precedent in the coming years.
Impact on the Legal fraternity
AI has transformed every career front and the legal stream is no exception. Historically speaking, law firms have been known to be notoriously sluggish in adapting to new technologies, wherein augmenting efficiency is often seen as contrary to the economic goal of amplifying billable hours. However, with the changing times law firms across the globe are trying to understand and use new technologies. According to major publication houses, “the vast majority of the UK and US’s top 100 law firms are either using artificial intelligence or assessing the technology.”
Firms having already approved of AI systems include the likes of Allen & Overy, Latham & Watkins, Baker & McKenzie, Slaughter & May, Singapore’s Dentons Rodyk & Davidson. Amongst the many, in 2017, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas became the first Indian law firm to execute an agreement with Kira Systems, a Canada-based machine learning software provider, to improve the efficiency, accuracy and speed of the firm’s delivery model for legal services. for legal research.
A cluster of Indian legal tech start-ups such as SpotDraft, CaseMine, NearLaw, Pensieve, Practice League etc. are developing natural language processing based applications that are initiating next-generation legal research programs to assist law firms in going beyond effortless, keyword-based research, thereby making it efficient. Most of such start-ups are swiftly rising in AI and NLP research capabilities, some of which have their own research labs, where softwares are being developed and trained as per the needs of lawyers and law firms.
Not only are the software solutions replacing paperwork and data management, the legal industry is also becoming consumer-centric. It is also helping save time in routine tasks of a lawyer, so that one can focus on more important facets. Presently, there are many areas of work in a legal pracitioners’s aresenal, in which artificial intelligence is proving to be useful:
- Legal Research – A lawyer spends most of his/her time carrying out research wherein accurate research plays an integral part in opining clients or winning a case. With the use of of AI backed software it would be an aid for lawyers to find relevant case laws and applicable statutes. With this software advancement at disposal, complex legal questions can be answered in simple and basic language in a a timely and cost-effective manner.
- Due Diligence – Due diligence is an exhausting yet historically imperative procedure in yielding a positive analogy. However, on the brighter side AI systems help to do the same task but in a more organized and faster manner. AI is also known to makes thorough checks of the facts and the figures, which helps in providing effective counselling to the clients. AI legal softwares such are Kira are proving to be helpful and time effective.
- Contract generation – Drafting contracts is like bread and butter for a legal practitioner in any field, wherein many companies have started utilizing AI based softwares in drafting standard and routine legal contracts. These softwares help in generating basic templates which can be later customized as per the needs and requirements of the clients.
- Legal Analytics – Artificial Intelligence provides for the data points from past case laws, and also provides judgements and precedent law to be used by lawyers in their present cases.
- Intellectual Property– Tools of artificial intelligence helps in providing the insights into the IP portfolios i.e. search and registration of a trademark, Patent, Copyrights etc.
- Electronic Billing- AI enhanced softwares also help lawyers and firms in preparing the invoices as per the work done by them. It makes for accurate billing for the work done by a lawyer or the firm as a whole. Thus, it works as an effective tool for both lawyers and clients.
- Innovations in servicing clients –The way in which clients are serviced would drastically change in the future. Law Firms would approach their clients with an innovative approach and more authentic and economic legal solutions. Presently, Indian law firms bill their services based on the time spent on the matters i.e. the billable hour method. However, this approach would become obsolete in the future. In order to service their clients better, law firms would look at innovating their pricing strategies and implement say a Performance-Based Pricing Strategy: as the name suggests, this pricing model would be extremely client friendly as the client shall be asked to pay only once targets have been met and the same would strengthen the professional relations between the clients and the firms.
While AI comes into the fore, it is possible that a machine may take over our lives. However, there is no reason why AI cannot be curbed. It is important to understand the importance of AI and find unique ways to regulate its usage effectively. Instead of letting AI take over, it should be let to act as an agent of change to create smarter lawyers and be able to attack problems like high legal costs and pendency of cases in courts. The power of AI could also be used by the Government to by making it affoordable for law firms and legal practioners.
Even though there are substantial restrictions today, however given the time and effort to evolve, these shortcomings may not exist in the coming five to ten years. Technology will eveolve more radically and sooner than we expect. Thus, although software driven machines are just beginning to perform mundane tasks of the legal field, it is likely that we can expect substantial growth in the near future whereby computers may mimic intelligent reasoning. Given the power to harness and regulate AI, we would be able to fix some of the most notable problems to customers and lawyers and its value shouldn’t be underestimated or dismissed on account of skepticism.
Guest Author, Views are personal.