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AI, analytics and team-based legal support

Must-read legal technology trends from John DiGilio

October 24, 2017

Home Blog AI, analytics and team-based legal support

I’m keeping Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other legal technology trends front and center in this reading list.

Blade Runner 2049 is here and while we may be decades from the types of artificial intelligence that are featured in the movie, it raises some questions. Are we simply delaying the dystopia? Or is our measured, cautious approach a sign that we see the potential of this technology but are not ready for a wholesale integration of man and machine? Then again, maybe I just watch too many movies based on Philip K. Dick’s writings.

At any rate, AI is upon is already in a variety of ways, and it’s an important trend for information professionals to monitor.

Top ten technology trends for 2018

Gartner, one of the leading technology research and consulting companies in the world, has identified its list of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2018, which they categorized into 3 groups: Intelligent, Digital and Mesh.

#1 on the list: Artificial Intelligence of course, or more specifically what it calls an AI Foundation—the ability to use AI “to enhance decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience.”

Those of you who believe AI is no closer than 2049, make note of its #1 position for 2018. Also note this stat from a recent Gartner survey—59% of organizations are working on their AI strategies, while the remainder have already made progress in piloting or adopting AI solutions.

For the remaining nine technologies, check out the infographic, accompanied by further detail on each.

Artificial Intelligence in legal profession

The respondents in the afore-mentioned Gartner survey on AI solutions may be more cutting edge or even bleeding edge in their use of technology. A Thomson Reuters survey that polled over two hundred in-house counsel about AI in corporate legal departments, the perceptions are a bit different. According to TR, two-thirds of corporate counsel feel confident about trying new technology but as for current or planned use of AI, half said they are not interested in purchasing AI tools. 44% said they don’t know.  Only 1% said they currently use technology based on AI.

Learn more about this along with some insights from Bob Ambrogi as to whether an AI divide is developing in the legal profession.

Thomson Reuters’ Sterling Miller offers a different take on what is happening in the industry. He sees more momentum than most, writing, “The adoption of AI is putting the legal marketplace on the cusp of a revolution, with in-house lawyers highly incentivized to lead the way.”

He also cites a benefit that doesn’t often get mentioned when talking about AI: morale. Miller believes that as AI frees attorneys from “drudge work” they will be more accepting of the technology that otherwise seems to threaten their livelihoods in its ability to reduce costs. I would say the same assessment could be made of the law library / research / information services profession.

Transformation of the legal profession

Back from the Clio Cloud Conference in New Orleans in early October, David Lat summarizes his experience for Above the Law into four trends that are shaping the future of law. While three are directly related to technology—online communities, big data and virtual- and augmented-reality technology—the first one is generational. It’s thought-provoking, but valuable.

I am going to shift away from technology a bit to share an article on the implications and consequences of its deployment and use. While tools help in some great ways, like alleviating or eliminating drudge work and saving time and money, they also directly affect some of the people involved in the work. This article by Erik Adams discusses this phenomenon in law firms, drawing first on legal administrators and shifting to law librarians into what’s becoming the “team-based legal support staff model” and one that seems to inflame the nerve endings in this industry. I am not providing my own take; rather, I am presenting them for you to process. Cause? Symptom? Or the professional version of the body healing itself? You decide.

New legal research and analytics tools in 2017

Anyone who wonders how I feel about the latest tech tools can ask Siri, or Alexa, or Cortana—all hanging out throughout my home! I am ever fascinated by the possibilities of the systems, platforms, and applications that our colleagues are building and deploying. Yet, like my fellow LIS professionals, I can be hard to impress, I’m cautious about spending employer money, and I know how to put these innovations through their paces!

On that note, I’ve gathered some assessments of new tools now available, summarized by two of my colleagues in the blogsphere:

Bob Ambrogi explores the latest tool from Bloomberg Law, called Points of Law. He writes, “it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help legal researchers quickly find language critical to a court’s reasoning and to support their legal arguments.” If you have not yet seen this new functionality, Bob’s overview will have you up-to-speed in no time.

Also from Bob, a look at industry newcomer Gavelytics. Starting with a limited launch in Los Angeles, this startup is looking to expand its offerings quickly. With an eye on judicial decision-makers, Gavelytics is designed to be a “one-stop shop for lawyers who want to learn as much as they can about a judge” and once again, Bob gives us the skinny.

Lex Machina’s latest is summarized by Jean O’Grady and Dewey B. Strategic. Jean looks at the latest analytical offering from the minds at Lex Machina—a new module covering district court bankruptcy appeals (18,000 filed since 2009). This new module gives attorneys critical insights into the behaviors of district court judges.

A recent trip to the dentist inspired this reading list. I have nothing but respect for these professionals. They certainly see and put up with a lot! As I sat in that chair recently, having a screw driven into my jaw, I could not help but ponder my appreciation for the old cliche, “It’s like pulling teeth”.

After all, we are also a group of professionals who see and put up with a lot. Part of making our firms and institutions look so good sometimes requires inflicting a little pain. While we try to numb the ouch, discomfort and aftercare are often unavoidable. To that, we should focus on and adapt to the ultimate outcomes and upsides.

What are your thoughts on AI and other technologies affecting our profession? Tell me via this Contact Us form. Mention my name and our webmaster will made sure I get it!

John DiGilio

John DiGilio

John DiGilio is a former employee at LAC Group. He has written for numerous regional and national publications as well as taught college and graduate courses in such topics as business ethics, e-commerce, fair employment practices, research methodology and business law.
John DiGilio

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