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Use of Artificial Intelligence in Legal Industry Can Change Billing
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Summary: The legal industry is increasingly using artificial intelligence. 

For years, there have been rumors that lawyers or legal support staff would be replaced by artificial intelligence. While experts say this is not on the near horizon and that A.I. so far only helps, not hurts, the legal profession, it is no question that technology is changing the legal world. But how?


Ken Clingen, managing member of Clingen Callow & McLean LLC, wrote on The Daily Herald that A.I. can “improve and threaten” the traditional law firm revenue method of racking up billable hours.

“Law firms accustomed to using lawyers to perform certain tasks are now encountering technology, including artificial intelligence, that can perform tasks in seconds or minutes rather than the hours spent by a human counterpart,” Clingen said. “Although there are a growing number of firms using alternative fee arrangements, the majority of law firms continue to rely upon the billable hour as the source of their revenues. As technology and artificial intelligence continue to improve and threaten the traditional revenue model, law firms must assess how to use these technologies and consider other means of billing.”

Artificial intelligence refers to code that can essentially think for itself. An example would be Facebook’s algorithm that knows what its users like based on what they post and engage in. The program takes information that users put in, and it gets smarter, figuring out more and more of what the user wants to see; and the algorithm starts to show the user content, based on what it gathered on them.

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In the legal community, the biggest use of A.I. is to perform research. An algorithm scans databases for keywords and concepts, and it can find cases in minutes, when the same task could take a person hours or days.

A.I. can also be used to create documentation easily, write abstracts, and aid in e-discovery.

Clingen said that clients hire lawyers to solve their problems, so even with the presence of A.I. they will continue to hire attorneys. Clients may balk at paying billable hours for work that technology can do, but they will continue to pay for legal advice, negotiation, counseling, and actual court appearances, according to Clingen.

Clingen said that technology has also created new reasons to hire an attorney. For instance, if clients need help with a cybersecurity case.

“The emergence of technology is also creating other markets for lawyers, even though other traditional areas of practice have been disrupted in a number of ways,” Clingen said. “Take cybersecurity, for example. Lawyers now must negotiate agreements that concern modern technologies that did not exist when they started practicing. Lawyers, too, frequently are called on to counsel clients on cybersecurity protection, evaluate cybersecurity protocols during due diligence, and assert or defend a claim for a cybersecurity breach.”

What do you think about artificial intelligence? Let us know in the comments below.


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