As our world grows and changes, so must the legal systems that govern it, as well as how those systems work. As such, it’s imperative for lawyers to stay on top of modern developments and prevent themselves from falling behind the curve.
One of the ways they can do this is by implementing AI in their legal research. This involves carrying out case research with the help of artificial intelligence. We explore this topic in more detail below.
AI can help you conduct research in a more time-efficient way, allowing professionals to scan entire databases in moments and save themselves a lot of effort.
Using AI for legal research makes it easier to figure out where to search for material, which further saves time.
There are some challenges to be faced when it comes to using AI in legal research, but it is a broadly positive force that allows professionals to get more done in less time.
How AI can be used for legal research
So, how can you start using artificial intelligence in your research? Below, we explore the best ways to take advantage of this legal technology, so you can make the most of it and ensure you’re getting value from your AI.
Well-written questions sit at the heart of all good research. If you know what to ask, you’ve already taken the first major step toward completing your research satisfactorily.
AI can give you answers to just about anything you can throw at it, meaning it’s a good idea to input your initial question directly into an AI search engine. This way, you can get a solid starting point and determine which direction to research.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll likely have to start combing through large legal databases in search of the right information. Unless, of course, you’re using AI.
AI can search and scan databases at the click of a button. This helps you get through more information in less time and ensures you’re only left with the most useful resources to get you where you need to be.
AI is ideally suited to working with data and large quantities of information. This is very useful to legal professionals. For example, you’ll often reach a point in your research where you’ve got a lot of facts at your disposal, but they’re disorganized. The information within them must be synthesized into something you can use. Ideally, this data can be fed into an AI to process it for you. This way, you get graphs, charts, and neatly organized information at your fingertips, leaving you free to move on to other tasks.
How using AI in legal research can improve lawyers’ efficiency
Conducting legal research via a dedicated AI tool comes with a host of benefits. We discuss a few of them below before diving into the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.
The most obvious way using AI helps make lawyers more efficient is that it’s a natural time-saver. AI can scan an entire database for you in seconds—something that would take a human mind hours. It can also automatically filter out irrelevant content and documents that otherwise fall outside your requirements. This means you can spend time exclusively on the documents most likely to be useful to you. Since that saves the time you’d otherwise waste on manually filtering through databases, it allows you to work far more quickly.
Better organization and management
With the best will in the world, case management can be difficult and/or disorganized. This isn’t because of any failing on the lawyer’s part but rather because of the enormous wealth of information available in today’s digitized society. It’s much easier to keep a handle on this when you have AI to help you. For example, artificial intelligence can collate different sources of information together for your convenience. It can also handle citations, ensuring you never lose a critical piece of information.
Gaining experience more quickly
Everyone has to start somewhere; no one is born an amazing lawyer. One of the main ways to become better at practicing is to learn as much as you can about the law, which is easier with AI legal research tools. If you have questions about how something works or what a particular ruling looks like, for example, you can simply ask it for details. This saves you a trip to the library and prevents you from having to take every question to a supervisor or senior lawyer at your firm.
Plus, it ensures that more junior colleagues only need to pose the most complex questions to other busy professionals.
AI in legal research: Pros and cons
Now, let’s explore some of the most notable advantages and drawbacks that come with using AI in legal research. Please note that not all items on this list carry equal weight and that many negatives can be mitigated to at least some extent.
Pro: Staying competitive
Technology for law firms exists for a good reason: to optimize the way they run. By using the best and most modern tech, firms can more easily ensure they stay relevant. This is doubly true as AI is ideally suited to helping you complete research more efficiently. Instead of wasting time perusing articles and books that might turn out to be irrelevant, AI empowers professionals to focus on the resources that will help and support them. This enables them to stay competitive as legal practitioners.
Con: Learning curve
While most AI isn’t difficult to use, it’s still a relatively new phenomenon. This means that it comes with a learning curve. That learning curve is going to be steeper for people who aren’t already familiar with the basics of how AI works in practice. Maybe they’ve read about it but haven’t had the chance to use one themselves, for example. That said, this con can be overcome easily enough by taking the time to teach everyone at your firm how to use your chosen solution, including the best ways to prompt it.
Pro: Quicker research
As we mentioned earlier, checking books and online articles manually can take a long time. This costs you precious hours that you could spend more productively. Thankfully, AI solutions are great at helping cut down the amount of time you spend researching. From giving you sources to searching legal databases in seconds, AI is proficient at getting research done more quickly and efficiently.
Con: Not always 100% reliable
As useful as it is, AI has been known to get it wrong sometimes. Whether this involves giving an incorrect percentage when asked for a statistic or inventing facts to suit a query, most modern AI isn’t yet at the point of being infallible. This simply means you’ve got to adjust your research approach accordingly. If your AI gives you a list of sources, look them up to verify they’re real and relevant. This will allow you to see for yourself how often the AI is right.
Pro: Readily available analytics
Lots of legal research consists of working with and processing data. This can be difficult, particularly for professionals whose skills don’t lie with numbers. AI is great at helping with this. You can often access analytics databases using your research tool. Also, you’re able to feed data to your chosen AI and have it generate analytics accordingly, so you always get the results you want.
Con: Still growing
This is really more of a pro in disguise; a solution that’s still in the process of being refined and perfected will become better with every successive year that goes by. This makes it a great long-term investment.
However, it is still worth mentioning that AI is relatively new to the market. You can’t rely on years’ worth of experience when you use it, which means not all the functionalities you might be after will be available right away. But again, given some more time, they likely will be.
Embrace the benefits of AI at your legal firm
If you’re looking for a tool that will unlock the expansive capabilities of AI throughout every phase of a case, maintaining consistency and efficiency within your case management platform, consider Neos.
Unlike other case management platforms that require you to exit the system to utilize AI technology—interrupting your concentration and adding an extra manual step to bring the AI content back into your case management software—NeosAI is embedded within the Neos case management platform, seamlessly accelerating your productivity in pre-existing workflows.
Schedule a demo of Neos today!