Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a while, and with its recent advancements, has generated more popularity with companies and regular consumers alike. While its disruption in certain industries has been more noticeable than others, what use is there for AI in the legal field? The improvements in AI have surely made a positive impact in legal efficiency but human intelligence is still critical in the application of law. It’s safe to say that AI won’t be replacing judges and lawyers anytime soon, but could it help individuals or small businesses in need of legal counsel in a pinch? You’ve probably heard the answer to that question many times already, and that answer is – it depends.
We must first understand the issues that surround AI in the legal field. Understanding this part can shed some light on how to go about using AI for individuals and small businesses. There are many concerns legal professionals have when it comes to AI. Some of these concerns include ethical obligations, data privacy, effectiveness, and inaccuracies. Many AI tools generally gather and use information that already exists for the public. The main issue with this is that the function of an agreement is often situation-specific, not to mention bound by jurisdiction. It must also be noted that most contracts are never tried in a courtroom, so there are many provisions that remain untested and private to the parties. Because AI usually sources such readily available content, the use of AI generated information runs the risk of producing bad legal work as much as good.
Now let’s discuss uses of AI for individuals and small businesses. The best use of AI for small businesses would be similar to how it’s used in the legal field today, to gather information. If done correctly, you can save a lot of time by letting AI do preliminary research for you. That being said, even lawyers wouldn’t rely solely on the information they receive from AI. Lawyers regularly present their work or ideas to colleagues to be checked and vetted prior to anyone else relying on the final product or offering it to any authoritative figure. However, running detailed research at fast speeds can help individuals and small businesses in search of general legal information regarding their specific case. Using AI in this instance can be more effective than using a search engine and skimming through answers for similar questions on the web.
What about going beyond using AI for research and using it to draft a letter or even a contract? This part can get complicated because you must consider all the variables. The prompt you enter in the AI software you use must be perfect for your situation because usually what you get from using these programs is only as good as the information you can provide it. Legal document automation may be used by some law firms, but they are carefully vetted for efficacy, completeness, veracity, and accuracy before final copies are signed or sent out. The reason for this emphasis on scrutinizing documents is due to, among other things, the possibility of having to produce these documents in a lawsuit.
Small businesses should research and take advantage of the new advancements in AI. Applying it to their business correctly may improve overall operations. When it comes to legal issues however, they should be cautious and understand when and how to utilize AI programs. Consulting with an experienced lawyer for small business legal needs is still recommended. Good legal counsel will not only be able to advise on the current issues, but they can look ahead and let small business owners know what to expect. They can also identify and recommend preventative measures moving forward.