Legal AI for Contracts- circa 2017

by Akbar Jaffer
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Legal AI Artificial Intelligence for Contracts- circa 2017

Legal AI for Contracts- circa 2017

Legal AI Artificial Intelligence for Contracts- circa 2017

“Legal AI” or Artificial Intelligence (AI), in the context of the future of the practice of law, will undoubtedly have a transformative effect in many ways.  In most areas of law, AI developments are in their infancy.  An assessment of where we are, and where we are going, requires an understanding of what AI currently does well and what it currently does not do so well.  Sometimes obtaining that information from the AI vendors that sell in the space is, unfortunately, inferential.

Artificial Intelligence currently does a good job of identifying concepts in writings.  This is particularly useful in things like document review or contract review or extraction.  Is it currently ready to return the information to a client’s satisfaction, unaided by human intervention, in the legal setting? Not really, but that does not take away from the great value it creates in getting one almost all the way home.

Are there vendors that pretend their products are better than the actual results, unaided by human intervention, in order to justify a full-service price? Unfortunately, there are, but if you pay attention you can figure that out too.

If a legal AI product currently purports to do anything more than identify areas of a contract that are possibly responsive to your inquiry, ask yourself how do they do that?  Activate your truth sensors.

For example, if an AI vendor uses AI to identify areas of a contract and make suggestions as to a preferred clause that might result in suggested changes, that task could be performed by overlaying the company or law firm advice, or playbook, in the areas of the contract identified and that would be consistent with an AI only solution.  A human would need to review the suggestions and made a final determination.  The AI would provide a tool which improved quality, speed and possibly reach, but nothing more.

If the vendor purports to use the AI to draw a conclusion about whether a particular contract should be approved or not approved, ask yourself how do they do that?

Is that a step too far, given the current state of legal contract AI?  I suggest that it is.  That is not to say that we won’t get there, just that we are not there today.

Evidence that the technology is not there yet can be gathered from a careful reading of a website that purports to offer such a service.  If it takes more than a minute or two for a result, it is not an AI only solution.  If it takes an hour, there is a human on the other side of the equation.  In that case, the provider is basically an LPO using AI.  Nothing wrong with that.  That is what we do at Legal Outsourcing 2.0.  We just don’t pretend it is an AI only solution.


Harry Buck, CEO
Legal Outsourcing 2.0

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