Generative AI is not just on the horizon, but it is already transforming multiple industries. What many don’t realise, is that certain sectors are particularly susceptible to these changes. Industries such as finance, engineering, and healthcare will all see real disruption, but there is one sector that stands to be more affected than the rest - the legal sector.
In our recent webinar ‘The Generative AI Revolution in the Legal Sector’, we dug into the close relationship between Gen AI and law. Law has unique ingredients that make it suited to AI applications. In fact, a recent report by Goldman Sachs ranked law as the sector most vulnerable to automation.
Law relies heavily on language, logic, and precedent, all grist to the generative mill. Generative AI is capable of making sense even from unstructured language and data, so law, with its hierarchical nature, is a relative walk in the park.
In fact, law appears to be built into generative AI. Abundant legal documentation and records no doubt provided the perfect fodder for training the Large Language Models that power ChatGPT and its competitors.
Finally, of course, if this affinity between law and generative AI was not enough, there is a lot of money in legal practices, incentivising a new generation of start-ups to leverage LLMs and go after the sector.
In this blog post, we will explore how generative AI is already disrupting the legal sector, then take a slightly wider look at what the future might hold for lawyers and law firms.
The challenging present: disruptive legal start-ups powered by generative AI
There are already a wave of start-ups using generative AI to offer novel and efficient solutions for legal tasks and processes. In every language and territory, law is being targeted by AI.
- Spellbook is a platform that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to automate contract drafting, review, and negotiation. It can generate custom contracts based on user inputs, identify key clauses and risks, and suggest optimal terms and outcomes.
- Harvey is a start-up that aims to disrupt the legal sector by using generative AI to provide legal advice and services. It has received financial backing from OpenAI and Sequoia, two of the most influential players in the AI field. Harvey claims to be able to generate accurate and relevant answers to legal questions, as well as draft documents, perform research, and handle disputes. Harvey could very well be a ‘copilot for the legal sector’, augmenting the capabilities of lawyers and clients alike.
- Do Not Pay is a legal start-up that uses artificial intelligence to help consumers fight common legal issues, such as beating parking tickets and appealing bank fees. Do Not Pay’s goal is to level the playing field and make legal information and self-help accessible to everyone.
Generally speaking, the new wave of AI powered legal start-ups fall into one of three categories. Contract Assistants, Copilots and Robolawyers (all of which we covered in our recent webinar).
All of these approaches will significantly disrupt the sector, but perhaps the last, Robolawyers, will cause the most change. Not just to legal firms, but to the entire legal process.
An unprecedented future: auto-law and the coming automation of the legal process
The present is already introducing a series of new challenges, while the future of law could potentially take on an entirely different landscape. That’s why we used AI to create the hyperbolic image below. We don’t anticipate a future of robotic judges, but change is coming, and it looks profound.
Generative AI might not only automate existing tasks and processes, it is creating radically new possibilities for the entire sector. Some legal thinkers envision a scenario where generative AI enables the automation of law. Who knows what this will be called, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s call it ‘Auto-Law’.
Auto-Law will mean the automation of the legal process, from start to finish. It is a future where generative AI could handle all aspects of a legal case or transaction, without human intervention or supervision. It means that generative AI can act as a lawyer, judge, jury, mediator, arbitrator, or any other role in the legal system.
This may sound like science fiction, but it is not totally far-fetched. There are already examples of how generative AI can perform some of these functions.
As we’ve seen, Do Not Pay already uses AI to help users fight various legal issues, such as parking tickets, flight delays, bank fees, landlord disputes, etc. It is a Robolawyer website, allowing customers to access legal assistance without a human lawyer directly involved.
This has enormous potential to democratise law. Yet what happens when both sides start using Robolawyers? Could legal AIs face off and dispute?
An AI called Pactum is already leading the way for ‘bot on bot’ negotiations in supply chains. It is not so hard to see a future where the server room replaces court rooms, and sooner than you might find comfortable.
Don’t believe us? Senior figures in the UK legal landscape are already predicting the rise of automated legal process.
“GPT-4 and other advanced machine learning is likely to transform the work that lawyers need to do and possibly even, in the slightly longer term, the business of judging.”
The quote is from Lord Vos, the Master of the Rolls in England and Wales, who has predicted that generative AI could replace human lawyers in personal injury cases, pointing towards a future where generative AI analyses medical records, calculates damages, negotiates settlements, and even issues court judgments. When might this begin? He estimates that a digital justice system could be in place as soon as the mid 2020s, paving the way for rapid automation.
The conclusion: how to survive and thrive in the age of Generative AI
Generative AI could make the legal sector more automated than any other and do it at rapid pace. This means that law will become cheaper, more competitive and the market may see a mass consolidation of legal service providers. Lawyers and law firms will have to adapt or perish.
The best way to get on top of AI is to use and understand it. Generative AI can enhance your skills and services, expand your reach, and differentiate your brand and value.
Advanced has been looking into the potential of Azure AI and how it can be utilised within the context of enterprise IT support environments. The objective is to first build and understand the system internally, experiencing all the challenges and breakthroughs, before rolling it out to customers. On Thursday 2nd November, we will be hosting a webinar 'Leveraging Gen AI in IT Services: the art of the possible', where our experts will discuss leveraging Gen AI to enhance user engagements and drive efficiency within IT services. Register above, or discover more about our IT Services for Legal.