Why Every Law Firm Needs a Legal Case Management System

Why Every Law Firm Needs a Legal Case Management System

Why Every Law Firm Needs a Legal Case Management System

Even highly effective legal practices can improve their document organization to speed up locating information. While file organization is vital, it is not always obvious how to improve it, regardless of whether you are using a digital or manual filing system. It’s even more difficult if you are using a combination of both.

Legal case management software can be the solution to your organization problem, though firms often resist making changes. Many agencies may not want to spend what they believe to be a significant amount of money on a new system, unconvinced that the ROI will be worth the upfront cost.

Other firms may see open-source case management as an incomplete solution. This attitude is driven by the belief that legal case management software is inefficient and doesn’t solve any of the problems that an agency may have.

Without an open-source case management program, however, many firms will have to put up with disorganized filing systems, communication breakdowns, missed deadlines, and much more.

It’s worth looking at how an open-source case management program will be able to help your law firm increase productivity. We will look at five key areas for improvement.

Encourages Team Collaboration

Encourages Team Collaboration

One of the largest issues that many legal firms may have is trying to schedule meetings between partners. Traditionally, legal firms have had to use third-party scheduling and collaboration software that doesn’t connect with the rest of the programs that are being used.

With modern case management software, however, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the time and effort needed for scheduling. Instead of having to search for everyone’s availability manually, the program will do it for you and book that time for a meeting and send automated notifications and meeting reminders.

Rescheduling a meeting with an open-source case management program is also quite easy, and is typically just drag and drop to when you would prefer to hold the meeting. Meeting invites can include any files and documents needed, making it impossible to forget them.

Improve File Organization & Meet Deadlines

Meeting deadlines is vital in the legal world, but manually tracking workloads is insufficient to keep up with a busy schedule. Meetings and deadlines can be overlooked as a result. This can also happen if you’re using a variety of programs to manage your workload. Constantly switching between them could mean that you’ll overlook a certain deadline.

With legal case management software, it’s much simpler to browse through the system and see when your deadlines are. These are listed chronologically, so you can see which ones are coming up and what you need to prepare. If a deadline is moved, you’ll be notified quickly. With a chronological visual presentation, you can be immediately aware of upcoming events.

Coordinating Communication & Document Retrieval

Coordinating Communication & Document Retrieval

Keeping client contact details on hand and up-to-date is critical. If you use several independent systems to store client information, client details could be scattered throughout several of them. Consolidating your client contact data will ensure that you have all the details needed, making communication with clients much easier.

An efficient client tracking system will also allow you to pull up relevant files when you’re speaking with them. With a manual filing system, this is a much slower, error-prone process.

Depending on multiple, non-integrated digital systems will add time and effort to the communications and document retrieval process. More modern legal case management software brings all of this together in one easy-to-use system. You should be able to type in a client’s name and have everything you need on-screen.

Time Tracking & Billing

Accurate client billing requires an accurate time tracking solution. An effective time-tracking solution must be simple to use and accessible from anywhere. Modern case management software lets you enter your billable hours into the system, automatically links them to a case, and allows your firm to provide transparent and accurate billing.

This can also be accomplished when you’re away from the office. As a result, you can input an accurate amount of billable time before you forget about adding it.

In-Document Search

The ability to search long legal documents quickly is vital to an efficient practice. With some software solutions, this isn’t available, which can lead to a significant amount of time being wasted searching through documents.

This can be especially true when trying to differentiate between various documents related to the same case. Modern case management software allows you to input metadata for each document, i.e., the topics and other relevant information about the document. This information ensures that the legal case management software creates easily searchable documents and files. Through this, as well as an in-document search, you’ll be able to save a considerable amount of time and effort looking through records.

Work Remotely

Legal professionals need to be able to remotely

  • Access documents
  • File documents
  • Check client records and notes.

Many legal professionals have experienced needing a particular document only to realize they left it back in the office. With an open-source case management program, this shouldn’t be an issue since you’ll be able to access the digitized documents securely and remotely. This is especially true if there are limited physical copies of a particular document, and several people in different locations need. Utilizing modern case management software allows you to be productive regardless of where you’re based for the day.

Wrap-up

Open-Source case management is often much more affordable than you think, making it time- and cost-effective approach to solving many of the critical issues that your law firm may be facing.

Subscribe to our newsletter or contact us today to find out how our legal case management software can help you. With our tailored approach to dealing with our clients, you’ll be able to ensure that your documentation and billing system is efficient, accessible, productive, and accurate.

It would be good to have some text here about e-discovery since it could be very relevant and required in some legal case management systems.

Legal Case Management Landscape Industry Disruptors

Legal Case Management Landscape Industry Disruptors

legal case management industry disruptors

The Legal Sector is a workflow-dependent, document-heavy sector that relies on Legal Case Management software to function properly. These software solutions will have some level of Workflow Management and Document Management. And since the daily work of legal workers is directly tied to the software, how effective is the legal department will depend on how good their Legal Case Management software is.

For that reason, I’ve decided to write about a few must-haves any Legal Case Management software should have.

But, before we get in the software selection details, let’s do a quick test.

Does Your Organization Need A New Legal Case Management System?

Most of the times, organizations fear change because, usually, change is painful and expensive. But the flip side is, how much are you losing by NOT changing systems?

What are all the avoided problems, and what are all the added benefits of using a modern, workflow-oriented Legal Case Management system?

Here’s a short and quick self-test to see if your organization is at a point where you need to start looking for a new Legal Case Management platform:

  • Does your Legal Case Management system allow you to work form any other place and/or device than the computer in your office?
  • Do you still have to organize your files, meetings, and deadlines manually?
  • Do you need to maintain an on-site server so you can run your software?
  • Is the Legal workflow spread across different systems and technologies?
  • Do you contact your clients only by (not always reliable) email?
  • Does your system provide automatic updates of features?

If you answered YES on at least two of these questions, then you may need to start shopping for a new Legal Case Management solution.

Who Would You Call: Established, Disruptors or Startup Case Management Vendors?

Established Legal Case Management systems usually force organizations to adjust their workflows to what the software can provide. This directly affects how legal workers do their daily work, and it’s usually by slowing down people to do their work.

Such externally imposed limitations lead to missed appointments and deadlines, wasted time and effort, etc. And the scary part is, you are aware of it, but you feel caged by the current case management system.

Unlike these established software solutions, innovative solutions in the Legal Sector are more attentive to the needs of end-users, and try to solve workflow problems. This is why these innovative changes are labeled as ‘disruptors.’

Industry disruptors know the pain points of decision makers, so they make sure to match their offer to your situation in such a way that it’s a no-brainer to take their offer.

Disruptors are young enough to really, genuinely care about their clients. On the other hand, they’re mature enough as a business to be able to provide actual, tested, proven value-for-money solution.

Startups that really get things right are too rare. Only 1 out of 100 startups actually live long enough to be a serious contender. They may have an amazing offer. But even they are not sure if they’ll be around to support their own product, 5-10 years down the road. This makes Startups a bad idea for Legal Case Management alternatives.

If you have the time and resources to dig deep and interview tons of these startups, you may actually find a gem of an offer. But… that’s a big IF. And you won’t want to be responsible for a software purchase decision that ends up having no company to support it.

Here are a few tips on how to conduct your search. It’s mostly aimed at Industry Disruptors companies. I wouldn’t dare giving tips on choosing Startup offers. It’s far too volatile of a market. I’m offering the safe route to a good choice, without depleting your company’s bank account with an established (read: overpriced) offer.

Must-Haves Of Your New Modern Legal Case Management Software

must haves of your new modern legal case management software

An obvious disclaimer, before we get started on this topic: This is not an exhaustive checklist. I’m not attempting to offer an exhaustive, works-everywhere checklist that you can print out and follow through.

There are far too many variables and each company will need to do their own homework. What I’m offering here is just basic direction of thinking. And more importantly, identifying where not to look for a solution.

An acid test of which offer is a good match.

Let’s get started.

1. Workflow Automation

The first thing to do when choosing a Legal Case Management system is to make sure it guarantees Automation of the entire process.

You won’t want to have to resort to group emails to let everybody know what’s the next step in any Legal Case. You’ll want the system to do this automatically. And you’ll want to be able to easily automate what happens on each stage, and who gets notified when.

Automation of the Legal Case Management will contribute to the reduction of time and effort your staff invests in each Legal Case. It also clears out peoples Inboxes, but more on this topic lower in this text.

2. Point and Click Workflow Customization

Another very important feature you should look for in a Legal Case Management System is the ability to customize workflows with minimal effort and minimal technical knowledge.

This feature will help you determine priorities, outline stages and roles in the process, and build all that into the system without a need of writing any software code.
This dramatically simplifies the process and saves time and effort. No need to call a software developer, no need to be tied to a retainer contract with any company. And most importantly, all it takes for workflow customization is basic computer literacy.

3. Automatic Status Updates

A feature you definitely want to have as a part of your new Legal Case Management software is the ‘Automatic Status Update’ for each step of the process.

This feature will help you to easily track what role is assigned to which employee and what’s the status of the given task. Also, your employees will always know their role in the process and your clients will be timely updated about their case status.

This feature significantly simplifies your company organization and improves your end users’ experience.

4. Calendaring and Deadline Organization

One of the most important things in any Legal department is efficiently handling deadlines associated with Legal Cases. Missing deadlines and meetings with clients are mistakes that successful legal organizations can’t afford.

For that reason, when choosing a Legal Case Management system, make sure it includes this feature. It will help you to add deadlines and meetings related to each case in your calendar and automatically add them to your employee’s calendar.

This feature will help you stay organized, save time, and improve your customer experience.

5. Centralized Database

Having all of your clients’ information in one place is a must-have for every Legal Department. That’s why it’s important to find a Legal Case Management System which stores all client information (including case description, contact information, notes of the case, etc.) in one centralized database.

This Centralized Database approach will improve the organization and management of client information. It will allow for easier and faster access to data, from any device that has an internet connection, from anywhere in the world.

6. Reliable Communication and Collaboration System

Working with so many clients and on tons of Legal Cases requires a lot of communication and collaboration.

This can get very messy if you don’t have a reliable system for communication and collaboration between people, departments and organizations. This is a very good reason to look for a modern Legal Case Management software that has this collaboration capability out-of-the-box.

This feature will help you to stay organized and respond to your clients on time while saving your employees tons of time and frustrations.

As I said above, this is not an exhaustive checklist for choosing a modern Legal Case Management software. But, if you don’t know where to start from, these must-haves are a good starting point.

While still here, to spare you some research and time, you can take a look at this article and see how using an ArkCase Case Management solution can help your organization improve efficiency and client service.

Let’s Wrap Up

representation of established vendors, startups and industry disruptors

Keeping up with the ever-growing Legal Cases means that you need a Legal Case Management software that can follow your pace and effectively answer to all of your requirements.

Established vendors are choosing to keep their Status Quo, and Startups can’t promise they can survive in this competitive industry. So, the best thing you can do when shopping for a modern Legal Case Management software is to rely on Industry Disruptors.

I know that choosing the right innovation can be challenging, but not accepting beneficial industry changes means ignoring the needs of your staff – a mistake no organization can afford.

I hope that my checklist will be a good starting point when researching for a modern Legal Case Management software. But, if you still don’t know where to start from, take a look at our Blog, and see if our modern Legal Case Management Software Solution for ArkCase will be a good fit for your organization.

Or simply contact us. We’re enthusiastic about helping organizations improve their workflows using reliable, cost-effective case management solutions.

The State Of Public Defenders Workload: Can AI Fix The People Gap?

The State Of Public Defenders Workload: Can AI Fix The People Gap?

can AI help the overworked Public Defenders

50 years after the historic Gideon vs. Wainwright, many legal advocates believe that the justice system is still failing the poor. Many think that it’s a class issue, that the poor don’t deserve the same legal protection. But I think there’s a different perspective on the problem, and I think I have a solution for it.

As the Innocence Project reports, Public Defenders’ caseloads in some US states include about 80 to 100 cases per week.

Per Week.

That’s about 400 cases per month or more than 4500 cases per year.

That’s an impossible schedule to fulfill, no matter how dedicated legal workers are.

The Overworked Public Defenders Fail The Poor

The good part about the US Justice System is that every citizen in America has the right to be represented by a Public Defender if they can’t afford a lawyer.

The unfortunate part is that the number of these citizens is huge. In fact, more than 80% of those charged with felonies can’t afford an attorney. As a result, hundreds, even thousands of people end up in jail, and many times because their defense was not as effective.

And how could it?

According to the Innocence Project statistics mentioned above, an average Public Defender that works 40 hours per week has only 20-30 minutes to devote to each case.

So, how could one Public Defender handle all these cases in a week, every week, for years… and do it right?

To any justice-loving person, this is alarming. We can’t have innocent people ending up in jail. Not in the US. Not in the 21st century.

We need a paradigm shift.
We don’t need more Public Defenders.
We need Artificial Intelligence (AI).

How AI Helps Overworked Public Defenders

AI helps overworked public defenders

When thinking of Artificial Intelligence and Legal Sector, many people probably imagine some robots defending real people in court. Some legal workers even fear that AI will replace lawyers. At the same time, some convicted people actually hope that once robots take over, justice will be executed more reliably.

Jokes aside, AI is not here to replace people. AI is here to enable them to do good: better, faster, more reliably.

Throughout the past few years, AI has proven to be a good assistant to people. And today AI has proven very useful in almost every industry. From healthcare, industrial research, and development, all the way to the Legal Sector.

And AI is indeed making enormous changes in the Legal sector. Combining machine learning and controlled training sets, we can now train systems to tell the difference between a positive dominant sentiment in a court hearing, from a dominantly negative sentiment. AI and pattern recognition is a very interesting subject and we’re making great use of it in the legal sector. Feel free to learn more about that here.

For now, let’s focus on how AI-powered solutions can help Public Defenders specifically.

1.   AI-powered Transcription of Hearings and Pre-Hearings

Wouldn’t it be great to have an AI-based transcription platform that will work as part of a Legal Case Management Module?

In the beginning, when we came up with this idea it seemed unachievable to many, but not to us.

Now, thanks to AWS and their AI-based transcription platform, legal workers can enjoy the benefits of such an integration.

By transcribing witness interviews, court recording, hearings and other legal documents in multimedia formats, Public Defenders can easily search through them by keyword/keyphrase. This AI-based platform helps Public Defenders find the information they are looking for much faster and easier, and further manage that same information together with all of the other case-related data. We’ve made this possible with our Legal Module for ArkCase.

2. AI-Powered Sentiment Analysis of Transcribed Statements

I’ve already mentioned sentiment recognition, so let me unpack that a bit more. The idea of an AI-powered system that recognizes human sentiments is well known to the world of AI.

AWS created something similar years ago. It’s called Amazon Comprehend.

This tool uses linguistic analysis to detect emotional and language tones in a written text.

Amazon comprehendImage Source

The point behind using such a tool in Public Defenders practice is that it would help them use trial or pre-trial transcriptions. Amazon Comprehend can analyze transcribed hearings and interviews of the people on trial, and recognize their sentiments.

A Public Defender can use these AI-provided facts and build a defensive line that works in favor of their client.

Using such a system on pre-trial interviews would help Public Defenders to build a proper case in less time and to defend the person with higher efficiency.

And this can become more than just an idea. Public Defenders could unburden lots of their weight using such a tool.

3. AI-Powered Face Expression Recognition

One more somewhat futuristic idea of how AI could help Public Defenders is the idea of face and expression recognition.
I am talking about an AI-powered facial recognition tool as a real-time lie detector.

My idea is that, hopefully soon, we will be able to upload videos and run the videos through facial recognition software. The software will do lie detection based on known “Truth moments” and “Lie moments” of the people in the video. Similar to how the old lie detectors work with setting thresholds. Only, this would be using facial expressions of people from recorded videos, or in real time during the court hearings.

Although a little more advanced, this idea is totally achievable and a great promise for the future of Public Defenders.

I can’t help but run a few years in the future and see a Public Defender using AI-powered tools to quickly and easily go through documents and pull data-based conclusions and build a strong case for their client.

In Conclusion

Overworked attorneys are poorly prepared attorneys. And considering the current situation of our Legal system, that is true for every Public Defender in the US.
But, with the evolution of AI technologies, Public Defenders can finally get the help they need and improve their operations.

Having a system that can figure out the reliability of the story that each witness has stated, together with their emotions and sentiments can be a silver bullet for Public Defenders. It would make their job much easier and much more effective.

All of these AI-powered tools can bring more confident conclusions among Public Defenders and consequently more effectively built cases.

Our Armedia Legal Module does just that. We enable legal workers to reliably transcribe multimedia materials from hearings. These transcriptions can easily be analyzed for sentiment recognition. And I really anticipate the day when we’ll be able to run an entire video recording and show how sentiments change based on facial expressions. That would be a lie detector of a new kind.

Armedia has already various collaborations with AWS. We have integrated AWS cloud and AWS Transcribe in our Legal Case Management solution to provide better solutions for the Legal Sector.

If you want to learn more about our Legal Case Management solution and collaboration with industry leaders like ArkCase, AWS, Alfresco etc. take a look at our articles. What are your thoughts on this subject? Please share them with us in the comments section below.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Armedia To Provide AI-Powered Transcription Platform For Legal Court Case Videos

Armedia To Provide AI-Powered Transcription Platform For Legal Court Case Videos

why legal workers need AI-powered transcription services for transcribing court case videos

Legal professionals use court case videos to verify the authenticity of information and to increase the transparency of the judicial process. Lawyers, judges, and other legal personnel use these case videos as any other case-related documents. This means that these videos need to be as searchable and as available to legal professionals as any other regular Word document. Easier said than done.

Considering the fact that Courts deal with sensitive situations where real people are involved (very often in a somewhat vulnerable state), the security of these videos must be at the highest possible level. Meaning, court case videos must be stored safely, transcribed quickly and accurately, by reliable staff, and used on-time.

The Challenge of Using Traditional Transcription Services

the challenge of using traditional transcription services

Because of the sensitive information covered in these videos, Courts and Court workers should move away from relying on traditional transcription service providers. The more people get involved in handling sensitive data, the higher is the risk of data leakage.

There are tons of web-based transcription service providers where you upload a file, an unknown staff process it, and you have a downloadable transcript. Sounds good and easy, but this black-box approach to sensitive video transcription services leaves a lot of unanswered security questions:

  • Who did the transcription?
  • How good are they at keeping secrets?
  • Did the file upload pass through a secured connection?
  • Is the company using a secure server to store the videos?
  • Did the transcript come through an encrypted connection?
  • Is the video safely deleted from the vendor’s servers?
  • Is there a way to ensure that nobody else will get their hands on the transcript?

This is why Courts need a closed system of handling sensitive video materials, where the recordings and transcripts aren’t directly accessed by non-court personnel.

Here’s a list of desired deliverables of such a closed, fully automated transcription system:

  • This closed system would be built by components that comply with data handling safety licenses.
  • The system would be almost infinitely scalable, so there is no limit to how many videos can be safely stored.
  • The system would need to be extremely accurate in transcribing the videos, and have a way to add timestamps to the transcribed document.

The good news is that video storage solutions and multimedia transcription software is commercially available. Multimedia handling has been a growing industry, and the legal sector is in a position to choose.

How Amazon Is Becoming The Go-To Vendor For Video Transcription and Storage

Amazon, a go-to vendor for court case videos transcription

While Amazon.com is a household brand and we buy anything from books to groceries on Amazon, the company has been on the leading edge in some very interesting technologies.

Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is a Cloud platform for hosting web applications that need vast processing power and even greater storage capacities. AWS helps companies focus on their software, while Amazon handles the server infrastructure. In a sense, software companies use Amazon’s Platform as a Service approach for building scalable solutions.

Amazon Transcribe is another service that is available on the market. Transcribe can take a multimedia file stored on an Amazon S3 server and convert a video conversation into a properly annotated and timestamped text.

Amazon AI is a result of Amazon’s huge investments in Artificial Intelligence too. From the humble product recommendation feature on Amazon.com, they’ve come a long way. Combining AI and their Transcribe service, users can even use subject matter related dictionaries, so that Amazon can have a sample of words probably used in the video. This increases the transcription accuracy and returns a close to perfect transcription.

This integration will help you derive value from your Court case videos, and make them more accessible and searchable, filed properly with names, addresses, people involved, etc.

AWS transcribe platform can help you with all of this and much more:

  1. The transcribe platform allows you to create your own custom vocabulary list. As legal professionals, you are aware that your vocabulary differs from the common use of language. With this feature of AWS Transcribe integrated into Armedia Legal Case Management solution, you increase the accuracy of your Court video transcription.
  2. With its many features, this platform can identify multiple speakers in a video content.
    It can recognize up to 5 different people in the same video and offer a divided-by-speaker text, or an XML file with timestamps and labels distinguishing between speakers.
    This is crucial when transcribing court case videos since attributing the transcribed text to the wrong speaker could change the course of the entire case.
  3. With AWS Transcribe, the transcripts of your court case videos will be almost 100% accurate and ready to use. That’s because AWS Transcribe adds needed punctuation to the text and automatically generate timestamps for each word in the transcript.
    At the same time, this platform provides a confidence score which shows how confident the platform is with the transcription provided. As a user, this feature enables you to always know whether a particular line of the transcript needs alterations, and whenever necessary, you can make alterations in the text.

All these features allow AWS Transcribe to produce texts that are ready to use, without additional edits. Court case videos transcribed with AWS Transcribe are indexed properly, searchable, and very easy to work with.

But all this will be of limited help to legal workers if they can’t somehow easily integrate Amazon Transcribe into their core legal case management system. These transcripts will need to be assigned and limited to specific cases. That way, only the legal workers assigned to that case can easily access the transcriptions whenever they need them.

And this brings me to the next point.

The Armedia Legal Module For ArkCase

the Armedia Legal Module for ArkCase

If you’ve followed my blogs for just a little bit, you’ll know how big we are on ArkCase. So far, we’ve built several specific solutions using ArkCase as our platform for case management.

As you may have read in other blog posts, we use ArkCase because it’s an open source case management system that integrates with all the key players: Alfresco, AWS, Ephesoft, Snowbound, MS Exchange etc.

We’ve taken this open platform and built a Legal module, turning the generic case management platform into a legal case management solution that’s very easy to use, and has almost limitless potential to accommodate your data storage needs.

The way we built the Armedia Legal Case Management solution is that we’ve added configurable workflows, forms, rules and access-level management features needed to run a Legal case. Plus, we’ve added a seamless integration with Amazon Transcribe.

Let me explain how a video transcription would work.

When you create a legal case, all the forms and workflows are set in place. Then, a legal worker with the needed access level rights can upload a video or audio recording. This multimedia material gets uploaded onto a secured S3 server. Then, once uploaded, AWS kicks in and provides the needed processing power to quickly and accurately transcribe the videos.

The end result is a neatly timestamped transcription file that you can search through just as easily as if it was a regular Word or PDF file.

In simpler words, Armedia Legal is a Legal Case Management Software solution with built-in transcription and video management. This makes our Legal Module perfect for managing and using all court case videos in a safe and secure way, without any worries about data leakage. The best thing about it is that we’re relying on Amazon’s PaaS, and you don’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

Let’s Sum Up

As a legal professional, you must be concerned about the security of the data you deal with in every case. Especially court case videos.
Data leakage is something no legal body can afford. Even if there is just a tiny opportunity of risk, like the case of using traditional transcribe service providers, you’ll want to avoid it.

Using traditional transcription service providers means allowing an unknown third party to gain access to sensitive materials that can harm you or your clients.

This is why you’re better off relying on a closed system like Amazon Web Services to store, process and transcribe your legal video materials.

We’ve built the Armedia Legal Case Management solution so you can avoid the risks of data breaches, by integrating with Amazon Transcribe. It rests on ArkCase, an open source case management system that is a great platform for building cost-effective case management solutions.

If you have any questions or you want to find out more about our Legal Module, feel free to contact us or check out our Webinar.

AI As Disruptive Innovation In The Legal Sector: Why Established Legal Vendors Should Embrace AI

AI As Disruptive Innovation In The Legal Sector: Why Established Legal Vendors Should Embrace AI

established legal vendors should embrace AI

Being present in the Legal world for so many years, you have probably witnessed a number of buzzes.

“Something new, innovative and life-changing has occurred.”

“A new technology, an innovation that will change the industry forever.”

You’ve been probably hearing the buzz of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for years now. And as the time passes by, you may have noticed that, besides the big claims, nothing big has come out of it yet.

AI is here, making enormous changes in the Legal sector, and most importantly, AI is here to stay.

Maybe it’s time to accept the fact that AI is not just a buzzword, but rather a real disruptor that has already made revolutionary changes in the Legal Sector and will continue to do so.

Let’s see why.

AI in the Legal Sector: Industry Disruptor or Buzzword?

AI as industry disruptor

Last year, the newspaper ‘Lawyers Weekly’ wrote about an Australian tax lawyer that opened a ‘Law Firm Without Lawyers’.

As Lawyers Weekly reported, the law firm offers Last Will and Testament services, assistance with business structuring, and asset protection.

This law firm is expected to include a suite of options to support victims of domestic violence in the future.

Adrian Cartland, the owner of the law firm, explains:

The difference is that where one would expect to find a lawyer sitting behind a large mahogany desk, there is a computer that clients can use to consult.”

He explains that AI is able to answer questions related to Wills and help the clients generate a perfectly legal Last Will and Testament. And for customers who require support, a member of their team is available at the click of a button…

“This is true Artificial Intelligence that is being applied to make everyday life easier,” says Adrian Cartland.

He adds: “The current process to write up a Will can be very time to consume and expensive…Making a Will should be as easy as popping to the shops for a carton of milk. Artificial Intelligence makes the process cheap, fast and legally binding.”

As we can see, AI is definitely much more than just a buzzword in the Legal Sector. But, it is also important to point out that although the power of AI in the Legal Sector is not to be undermined, there is no need to worry that AI will replace a legal professional.

As the behavioral scientist and senior research fellow for Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession and the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr.Paola, says:

“Indeed, I think this is where we often hear that misconception that AI, machine learning and deep learning will replace human beings — especially lawyers. Instead, the way to look at it, I think, is that AI, machine learning and deep learning will be a way of complimenting people’s decision-making, allowing us to make the most interesting work our priority.

We will be able to answer very complicated questions — key strategic questions — and having more fun doing it. AI can free up lawyers to focus on the more analytical and strategic thinking aspect of tasks − because, despite AI’s ability to locate, distill and organize any quantity of data for the needed information, the interpretation of the information still needs to be done by a human being.”

Dr. Paola makes some great points. Let’s see why.

Why Established Vendors Should Embrace AI-Powered Solutions

“With AI, lawyers will shift their focus from routine activities to much more high-value work involved in shaping strategies and navigating complex legal problems.”   Gillian K. Hadfield, a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Every day, the helping hand of AI finds its way to reach deeper into the Legal Sector and help to solve difficult tasks. With much faster pace and better accuracy than any legal worker can… in more than just one Legal area.

Let’s take a look:

AI in legal sector

1.  Image Analysis

A.   Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

One of the oldest usages of computer software and images is recognizing texts on images. Basically, it’s the process of recognizing texts on scanned documents.

Using AI in OCR is the process of taking a scanned set of documents, and applying training and dictionaries in order to recognize as much text as possible, with as high of reliability as possible.

The Legal sector benefits greatly from AI in OCR. All the forms, documents, archive materials etc. get digitized by scanning and text extraction. With legal forms, things get easier as you can train the system to understand what sort of documents are being processed, and what vocabulary is used throughout the documents. That way, even if the scanned image is of a lower quality, the computer can recognize a certain word based on a dictionary it uses in the legal sector.

This kind of image processing helps legal organizations digitize large archives of documents, and extract text from them with a high-reliability score, with minimal human intervention.

B. Objects Recognition (Image Taxonomy)

Unlike text recognition, object recognition is a much more challenging technical problem.

One of the best representatives of this problem is the famous “dog or a muffin” problem, and there are plenty of texts dealing with the technicalities of coding in the software that will be able to tell the difference

is it dog or a muffin

Image Source: Freecodecamp.org

This type of a problem also happens with recognizing actual objects in an image, from patterns that appear to have the same geometrical structure. Is it a person, or a graphite. Is it a car, or a box and two trash cans?

Using AI and machine learning to properly identify objects is very important for legal case files. Imagine a use case where a legal worker needs to find an image where there is a photo of a crime scene with a gun and a wallet. Instead of sifting through photos manually, the legal worker can run a search for these two objects, and get a list of images where these two objects are found.

C. Computer Vision (Scene Description)

Scene description is, at least for now, the holy grail of image recognition. And AI is making this attainable, soon.

For people, it’s very easy to see a scene and quickly identify the objects, their relationships, and deduct/explain what the picture represents.

Take a look at this example

Image Source: PyImageSearch.com

The software here is accurately recognizing the objects in the image. One step further from this is to deduct the relationship between these objects. We can see that in the image, the software has recognized that there is a fence, a few pots of flowers, a horse, and a person.

But to fully explain the image, we’d want the software to be able to recognize that the horse has jumped. And the person riding it is on it. And that the fence is below the horse.

So the full description of the image to (eventually) be as succinct as: “A jockey successfully jumping over an obstacle.”

Such scene description capability can be very helpful in documenting and identifying car accidents, people interacting at a crime scene, or even recognize acts of violence in real time.

2.  Textual Analysis

A. Contract Analysis

Contract analysis is a Legal area which can easily be covered by AI. The process requires reviewing, analyzing, deriving value, and checking legal agreements against current laws and rules.

Although the workflow of this process varies in each case, the basis is always the same. And thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP), all of these functions can be easily done by AI technologies.

NLP is much faster and accurate than humans, and that’s why AI technologies supported by NLP can easily and quickly free up lawyers from time-consuming tasks such as:

  • Financing/OTC derivative agreement review,
  • Sales/procurement contract review,
  • Employment contract review,
  • Compliance and risk review,
  • Some types of eDiscovery,
  • Due diligence,
  • Lease review.

B. Legal Data Research

Legal Data Research is another Legal area where AI-powered solutions can help your employees speed up the process.

Compared to other enterprise search or a database trawl, AI technologies are much faster and effective. These technologies do not only search for the best answer, but they also learn from the questions asked. They isolate the information needed from a mass of data instead of bringing upon hundreds of documents that contain the same keyword.

In addition to this basic legal research, AI can do predictive legal research based on a comparison between previous case records relevant to the current case. For instance, comparisons between previous actions of lawyers, available court documents, rulings made by judges on similar matters, etc.

Based on these comparisons, AI provides information on the likelihood for success and the possible damages that could appear in the case.

C. Intelligent Interfaces

intelligent interfaces

The third main branch of Legal AI is the development of intelligent interfaces.

Intelligent interfaces are interactive, web-based, Q&A systems. They either guide users in completing basic legal documents and forms or enable them to gain legal information via text input.

These systems use NLP to understand the input from the dialogue box and Machine Learning (ML) to help the system provide the right answer.

Intelligent interfaces are usually based on drop-down menus and checkboxes to quickly move the user through a series of steps.

The presence of AI in all of these areas helps lawyers to finally get rid of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks and focus on solving more important and complex problems.

3. Voice Systems (AWS Transcribe)

Recognizing characters on a piece of paper is relatively straightforward. Recognizing objects, not so easy, but still doable.

Recognizing speech from a recorded video is a lot more challenging. The ability of systems to clear out ambient noise, and recognize two people dialoguing, and then extract that dialogue into a text file, is quite the achievement.

AI and Machine Learning make this possible. And not only possible, but doable, and useful.

Systems that can read an audio or video file, and return a timestamped transcript of the dialogue are commercially available.

We’re actually using the Amazon Transcribe service in our Armedia Legal Case Management module for ArkCase.

I’ve covered this subject in a recent blog post on how AI helps the legal sector with multimedia transcription capabilities, but just to quickly summarize it here: AWS is allowing us to process legal hearing recordings, recognize different people talking in the video, and then return a neatly indexed, timestamped transcript of the video conversation.

If Bill and Harry are talking, Amazon Transcribe will be able to know who said what, when, and offer a neat transcription file of that conversation.

This technology is making the life of legal workers much easier, as they can search in a video recording just as easily as if it was a Word document.

Final Thoughts

Over the last decade, the impressive benefits of AI ensured its place in multiple industries. Improving their operational performance in many small, but significant ways.

One of these industries is the Legal Sector.

And yes, industry disruptors can be risky, but only for those who decide to ignore them.

So far, AI has made significant changes in the Legal Sector, especially in the 3 areas we discussed earlier:

  • Image Analysis,
  • Textual Analysis, and
  • Voice Systems.

The added benefit for most of us is to understand that AI will NOT replace people. It will rather help us focus on helping more people with their cases.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to share this blog post with your colleagues on your social media.