May 7, 2021

Artificial Intelligence and Legal System

Introduction

The term Artificial Intelligence is a combination of two words – ‘Artificial’ which is something not made by humans and ‘Intelligence’ though difficult to define, it is something related to human intellectual abilities.

The history of AI was filled with myths and rumours (however superficial) that artificial beings are endowed with superior intelligence. The concept of AI is not a new one but has a long history. The concept of AI was first coined by Alan Turing in 1950, who is one of the founding fathers in development and progression of research, shorn of myths, on Artificial Intelligence.

The crucial difference between the earlier generation computers and the AI-driven computers is that the latter have the capability to think on their own and draw conclusions. It is affecting our lives in more than one unimaginable ways and, thus, intruding in our everyday matters such as giving us wake up reminders, suggesting which articles to read etc- putting an effective filter in our everyday lives, so to say. Even top-notch companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon etc have also invested in such like technologies and thus, consequently, Google uses a virtual assistant like Google assistant, Apple uses Siri while Amazon places more reliance on Alexa, in its multilingual avataar.

These technologies have been in vogue for ample number of years and had already proven their value in various fields such as transportation, helping doctors in surgeries like a robotic and others where precision guided incision is necessary, predicting climate conditions, helping MNCs in maintaining a strong consumer base by analysing the consumer behaviour and his spending pattern.

However, its application vis-a-vis Legal implications is rather nascent in India, though, India is the largest democracy in the world with the population of 1.35 billion (approx.) and therefore faces a plethora of problems like shortage of resources, skilled manpower, skewed distribution of natural resources, wide difference in terrain etc. There are over 24 Honourable High Courts and more than 600 subordinate Districts Courts where almost 6 to 8 lakh cases are filed daily. Though the Honourable Courts are making huge efforts to cut down the backlog, but the sheer institution of fresh cases (though many are simply frivolous, some being miscellaneous application like caveats, some being PILs etc) thus, with the constant barrage of institution of fresh cases coupled with paucity of resources like well-maintained Court rooms and effective manpower strength necessarily means that the disposal of cases howsoever enormous is invariably less than the institution and is thus a major contributory factor to the ever swelling of the backlog. Though various initiatives have been undertaken from time to time such as ADR, Mediation, Family Court, Lok Adalat etc to reduce the burden on the courts, however, the concept of application of AI to this field is still a relatively unexplored field. Therefore, it is high time to make a paradigm shift from conventional methods to may be rather unexplored field for more efficient, effective, efficacious Justice delivery system by putting up Artificial Intelligence into use, which also meets the canons of equity, natural justice and fair play.

AI and law

The law touches every corner of the business world. Virtually everything that companies do—sales, purchases, partnerships, mergers, reorganizations—they do via legally enforceable contracts. Innovation would grind to a halt without a well-developed body of intellectual property law. Day to day, whether we recognize it or not, each of us operates against the backdrop of our legal regime and the implicit possibility of litigation. At close to $1T globally, the legal services market is one of the largest in the world. At the same time, it remains profoundly under-digitized. For better or worse, the field of law is tradition-bound and notoriously slow to adopt new technologies and tools.[1]

Indian courts are undergoing a sea change by transforming into digital and the use of Artificial Intelligence may help in reducing the backlog of pending cases. USA and Canada have already developed AI systems to assist judges in the cases. In the same way, India can also use this in routine matters such as evaluation of evidence, research work etc.

The lawyers still rely on the old methods that were designed years ago. However, Artificial intelligence will transform the practice of law in many dramatic and dynamic ways. It has the ability to store data which is not within the capacity of human being and by analysing millions of stored permutations and combinations it can predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy the outcome of the case. It can empower lawyers with fresh insights on similar cases. However, there is a general misconceived notion that this technology will somehow overshadow the legal fraternity and thus play a spoil sport in the client-advocate privileged communication. However, these notions are fanciful, to say the least.

Application of AI

CONTRACT REVIEWS –

Contracts are considered to be the backbone and cornerstone of any modern-day law firm. It is impossible to carry out daily business dealings without working and finalising on a contract. Therefore, drafting and managing a contract is critical to business ethics and same if done with inefficiency can lead to losing out important business dealings. However, drafting contracts is a painful, tedious and demanding job which is also time consuming. Since it is nearly impossible to look at minutiae detail of the contacts as they may well stretch to over thousand pages – they are prone to human errors due to which data cannot be processed accurately. Manual broad overview of the contract by the lawyer may get affected. They may get visually distracted, or simply lose focus due to pressure of other pressing legal engagements. Thus, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the increased infusion of AI in the Legal field will increasingly render a yeoman service in the progression of natural justice. AI will automatically classify and de-classify the causal voluminous data and provide effective linkages in the plethora of documents and consequently red flag the various known and unknown fraught risks involved. Legal tech tools like Kira have considerably eased the process of contract review leading to a considerable shifting of onus of proof.

CONTRACT ANALYSIS-

Drafting contract is only the initial stage. After entering into the contract, companies concerned are bound by the terms and obligations of the contract and continually conforming to the terms of the contract is a herculean task. Also, many companies may enter into valid contracts almost on a daily basis with various other companies and still may be having an ever-increasing pile up of pending contracts. Thus, AI technology will help the lawyers not only in working faster but in addition to this it will also help in maintaining a large client base which will bring more profits to the enterprise.

DUE DELIGENCE-

It refers to precautionary steps taken by a reasonable man or a business when he enters into a contract with the other party. Even though, it is a complicated process and consumes much of the time but once the results are out one can make sure whether he wants to fructify a deal with a particular company or not. It automatically decreases the rate of risk and thereby increases the shareholder earnings. AI driven software can provide a great deal of help in this. It will reduce time and bring down the overall cost spent in this process and will give the firm a competitive edge in comparison to other firms. It will have a great impact on Merger and Acquisition (M&A) as it will give assistance to the firms to analyse and gather information and make better informed decisions.

LEGAL RESEARCH-

Legal research has, traditionally, always been an important process for the firms. Historically, legal research was a manual process. It was generally done by interns or junior associates which required a lot of time and simultaneously escalated the cost-benefit ratio. Also, before giving any judgement a lot of time was spend by the Hon’ble Judges in analysing the in-hand case vis-à-vis the judgements given in other similar cases. But with the AI driven software, this process has become digital. The process of legal research persisted but how it is done is continuously altering and evolving. Now, the relevant precedent can be found in no time which makes the job easier. Since there is already a huge and ever-increasing pending backlog of cases, this technology will help in bringing down the number. It will not only save time and money but will also confer the advantage of time to analyse and deliver the best reasoned judgment.

PREDICTION OF LITIGATION OUTCOME-

It’s seems rather impossible to predict the outcome of a case. But what if we can actually do so? No wonder, Artificial Intelligence is already giving the answer here. Generally, clients ask their lawyers as to the probability of winning the case if the case goes to trial and would it be worth it? Such uncertain hypothetical questions can be quite difficult to answer. With the help of court orders, verdicts of jury, inputs from relevant precedents etc there is greater possibility that outcome could be predicted. It has the available power to make predictions of the outcome and as these predictions become more correct, it will surely have a great effect in the field of Law. It will generate more profits, strengthen the clients base as they will trust their firm more, bring down the number of pending cases and also will accelerate the settlement course.

Two-Edged Sword –

There are always two sides of a coin. Undoubtedly, AI will bring drastic changes in field of law but it has some inherent drawbacks too.

Change is the law of nature. Humans adapt themselves from the changes that take place around them and gain more experience. However, same is not with the AI. It performs the task on the same level until and unless a different command is given. They will do the task according to which they are programmed and therefore lack human judgement. It is generally said that too much of everything is bad and so is the case with AI. Even though it will reduce the risks, help the shareholders to generate more profits, ease the work pressure on lawyers but we cannot rely on it completely. Being a complex machine, it’s implementation, repairs and maintenance involves huge cost. Another drawback could be that it will render many people unemployed. Research work which is mostly done by junior associates or legal interns will not be needed anymore as AI can do the same work in no time. Being a complex technology, it could be handled only by professionals having specialised knowledge which are less in number.

Conclusion

In nutshell, integrating AI into the field of law will bring many drastic changes. It will revolutionize the way of working of the firms. Generally, an amateur picturises lawyers as someone wearing a black robe and arguing in front of the Judges. However, this is just a small part of their job, which may, inter alia, involve going through huge piles of cases to find out the relevant precedent, research work, framing arguments etc. This job could be made easy with the help of AI driven software. It will change the way how firms interact with the clients and it will lay the foundation of growth for the legal sector. However, such a technology should be handled with due care. We should not become too dependent on these machines. To sum up, it would be logical to conclude that as this technology has already proven its worth in diverse fields, it can be a game changer in the field of law also.

[1] Rob Toews, AI Will Transform The Field Of Law (May 23, 2020, 12:13 PM) https://www.forbes.com/sites/robtoews/2019/12/19/ai-will-transform-the-field-of-law/#5321d1aa7f01

Author Details: Muskaan Gupta (University Institute of Legal studies, Punjab University)

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