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Law firms ‘must keep pace with technology’

Bahrain Business
Fri, 02 Mar 2018

MANAMA: Experts have dismissed concerns of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing lawyers in the near future even as technology advancements continue to bring in greater cost savings and efficiency.

While agreeing that the human element in legal procedures would remain crucial for a long time to come, panellists during a discussion at the Third Annual Arab Lawyers Forum at the ART Rotana Amwaj Islands yesterday said Arab law firms need to quickly get up to speed with the fast-evolving technological advancements.

Thomson Reuters Mena market development lead for innovation Samer Mahfouz, Bahrain Fintech Bay chief executive Khalid Esam Saad, IBM MEA senior counsel Constanze Kuhn and UK-based Meridian West director Alastair Beddow discussed issues such as How technology is changing financial services and banking?, What are the potential risks involved?, How can robots work with humans and what are the legal implications in practice? and What type of influence can social media have on law firms and business development?

The discussion was moderated by UAE-based Al Tamimi and Company partner for financial crime Ibtissem Lassoued.

There have been many reports of technology start-ups disrupting the practice of law by giving people access to online software that reduces or in some cases eliminates the need to consult a lawyer, or by connecting people with lawyers more efficiently through online marketplaces and lawyer-matching websites. reported last Sunday that artificial intelligence has overtaken lawyers for the first time in a staple of the legal profession – accurately spotting risks in everyday business contracts.

In a new study, LawGeex, the leading AI contract review platform, has achieved a 94pc accuracy rate at surfacing risks in Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), one of the most common legal agreements used in business. This compares to an average of 85pc for experienced lawyers.

The study pitted the LawGeex AI solution against 20 US-trained top corporate lawyers with decades of experience, specifically in reviewing NDAs.

The participants’ legal and contract expertise spanned experience at companies including Goldman Sachs and Cisco, and global law firms including Alston and Bird and K&L Gates.

Both the lawyers and the LawGeex AI analysed five previously unseen contracts, containing 153 paragraphs of technical legal language (legalese), under controlled conditions precisely modelled on the way lawyers review and approve daily contracts.

This is the first time that an AI has been tested with a typical task undertaken by lawyers on a daily basis.

The highest performing lawyer in the study achieved 94pc accuracy – matching the AI – while the lowest performing lawyer achieved an average 67pc accuracy.

The challenge took the LawGeex AI 26 seconds to complete, compared with an average of 92 minutes for the lawyers.

The longest time taken by a lawyer to complete the test was 156 minutes, and the shortest time was 51 minutes.

The report quoted University of Southern California professor of law and economics Gillian K Hadfield as saying that: “This experiment may actually understate the gain from AI in the legal profession. The lawyers who reviewed these documents were fully focused on the task: it didn’t sink to the bottom of a to-do list, it didn’t get rushed through while waiting for a plane or with one eye on the clock to get out the door to pick up the kids. The margin of efficiency is likely to be even greater than the results shown here.

“This research shows technology can help solve two problems – both making contract management faster and more reliable, and freeing up resources so legal departments can focus on building the quality of their human legal teams.”

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