The Law Society has stated that all law firms must obtain the client’s consent if they are to use legal AI technology or AI tools. The Lawtech Ethics and Principles Report has stated that those within the legal industry should inform their clients, in easy to understand language, of any types of AI applications that will be used, and explain to them exactly why it is being used, and the implications of using this type of legal tech.

Furthermore, The Law Society has recently published five overriding principles for governing the design, development and use of any type of legal technology.

The five principles include capability, regulatory compliance, lawfulness, transparency and accountability. These principles mean that anyone within the legal profession developing or using AI software should know exactly how the software works, as well as being aware of all the benefits and risks offered by the technology. Those working within the legal sector and their clients should understand the design and deployment of each tech solution.

How are firms using legal AI Technology?

AI technology is being used in the majority of business sectors, including the legal services industry. In recent years, the legal industry has started to embrace law firm technology, with its use becoming more and more prominent following the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic. Legal departments are now using AI technology for a range of purposes including:

  • Automation of tasks: The use of AI has helped a large proportion of legal teams to become more efficient. Case management systems such as Eclipse Proclaim and LEAP are easily developed to allow for seamless automation of tasks and legal documentation production. Many firms now have automated tasks set up on their systems, saving them time in having to carry out tedious, time consuming tasks.
  • Legal research: AI has become a huge component to legal research, with legal resources like LexisNexis help solicitors to find the best and most relevant information to their legal case using continuously improved algorithms. Other software tools, such as Lex Machina, assist lawyers in forming case strategies based on the outcomes of previous, similar cases.
  • Chatbots and client service: Live chat functions and chatbots are present on a large number of business websites, including law firm websites. Chatbots can be set up on websites to allow clients to ask questions and receive pre-determined answers to their queries using artificial intelligence. Client service can also be improved using AI with automated text messages and emails being sent to clients to keep them up to date on the progress of their cases.
  • Voice recognition: Voice recognition software, such as Siri and Alexa can be used by lawyers to carry out specific tasks, such as booking appointments, contacting clients, or arranging meetings with business associates or clients.
  • Legal marketing: Many legal marketing teams will make use of artificial intelligence on a daily basis. Targeted advertising is a prime example of how artificial intelligence can be used to market a law firm. Although there are some concerns on whether this type of advertising could be unethical and slightly invasive, it has been shown to be an effective tool for marketing the firm to potential clients. Marketing teams will also use AI technology to keep an eye on their competition, with software showing competitor search engine ranking positions etc.
  • Contract review and creation: Software, such as Uhura AI can be utilised for the review of existing contracts to check for missing clauses. Other AI software can be used for the creation and production of bespoke contracts.
  • Anti-money laundering:  Case management systems, such as Proclaim can be developed to enable firms to carry out due diligence on all files and adhere to the AML rules by implementing AML risk assessment processes. This is just one example of how AI can be useful in combating money laundering in the legal industry.

The Law Society’s view on the use of legal AI technology

Within the paper accompanying the five principles, the Law Society has stated that AI technology should only be used in the best interest of all clients and should not be used by solicitors to mislead their clients into thinking a  “more favourable outcome will be achieved in their matter” due to the predicted outcome found using AI tech.

The President of the Law Society, Stephanie Boyce has stated “lawtech can be used in a way which meets solicitors’ professional duties to their clients” and that the five principles outlined would “likely increase consumer choice, create clarity and reduce time spent on procurement”.

She also stated;  “The paper helps solicitors to unlock the benefits brought by digital transformation by providing a starting point to assess the compatibility of lawtech products and services against professional duties…Likewise, it also aims to help… providers understand the regulatory parameters of solicitors’ practice, embed trust and build market-ready solutions.”