Legal Profession’s Business Model Stifles Use of Accuracy-Enhancing & Labor-Saving Tech: Case in Point

No sector in 2019 is entirely isolated from the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes like higher accuracy or greater cost efficiency.

But the legal profession tends to resist such moves when they might result in fewer hours billed by attorneys.

Consider an artificial intelligence company whose founder I met earlier this year:*

His staff lawyers and software engineers collaborate to “teach” an AI-based system in the fact patterns found in selected, high-frequency lawsuit categories.

Like slip-and-fall liability on business premises, or an employment claim for sex discrimination.

They also “train” this AI-based system in the court cases and statutes of the state whose laws will govern the suit.

When one of his client companies / software users is served with a lawsuit — by a document that the legal system calls a “complaint” — they designate local counsel to represent them in the state where suit has been brought. By law, local counsel has to respond with specified documents.

These specified documents consist of tedious replies to alleged facts; point-for-point rebuttals to legal doctrines; and meticulous identification of information and evidence that the lawsuit recipient has the right to demand of the party who brought suit against them.

As any lawyer involved in litigation can tell you from personal experience — myself included — this is “grunt work”.

But it has to be done right. And it has to be done by an attorney.

In the “answer”, you’ve got to avoid making the wrong response to factual allegations. And you can’t afford to miss an “affirmative defense” that might get your client off the hook. Finally, you don’t want to omit anything important from your document demand or other “discovery” requests.

Otherwise, at best, you’ll create unnecessary work, and incur expense, in correcting these errors. At worst — you’ll prejudice your client’s case if the judge refuses to cut you a break and let you correct your mistake.

This is where this founder’s AI company comes in. 

Local counsel, who’s been engaged to represent the client company / software user who’s been sued, feeds the “complaint” into the AI-based system. Within 2 or 3 minutes it gets a first draft of the following — without any human intervention:

  1. A draft “answer”,
  2. A draft “affirmative defenses”, and
  3. Draft initial “discovery” requests (document demands, interrogatories, requests to admit facts, etc.)

Here’s the case in point:

One of this AI company’s Fortune 50 client companies / software users has found that it takes an average of 6.6 hours to create those three kinds of documents described above — when a lawyer(s) works manually –without benefit of this AI system.

That’s an average of 6.6 hours with one or more lawyers charging several hundred dollars per hour.

In this particular Fortune 50 client company’s / software user’s experience, those first drafts produced by the AI-based system are accurate enough that only .80 hour is needed for a human lawyer to finalize all these documents in final form — for filing with the court — as required by law.

A reduction in lawyer time down to 20% of that average of 6.6 hours.

This AI company’s founder told me that he’d met an associate lawyer working in an “AmLaw 50” law firm — one of the 50 highest grossing practices in the United States — who had access to his AI company’s system.

AmLaw 50 associate lawyer: Your system’s first drafts have high accuracy, and, of course, they afford a great time savings.

AI company founder: So do you use our software system in your practice?

AmLaw 50 associate lawyer: Yes, in some circumstances.

AI company founder: What circumstances?

AmLaw 50 associate lawyer: When I’m up against a deadline.

AI company founder: If our first drafts have high accuracy, and they save you time — why not use our system for all of the cases to which it can be applied?

AmLaw 50 associate lawyer: If I did that, I’d miss my quota of hours to be billed — and you know what that would mean for me. 

 

* I have the privilege to meet all sorts of business leaders, lawyers, and technology people — and talk with them about what I do: Help CEOs, CFOs, and other P&L managers to reduce legal spending and prevent legal problems. When communicating about what I’ve learned, I avoid identifying those who are kind enough to talk with me.