Inside Track: AI: Helping to Streamline Your Research:

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  • AI: Helping to Streamline Your Research

    Legal research AI tools can help you do routine work that can then free up your time to work on more complex tasks that an AI can't do.

    Emma E. Babler

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    March 6, 2019 – When I tell people that I’m interested in artificial intelligence (AI), and how it affects legal research, I am sometimes met with slightly panicked looks – especially when I go on to say that new AI tools can do a lot of things that lawyers do.

    Don’t worry – robot lawyers are not here for your jobs. They’re here to help streamline your work.

    It’s Really ‘Augmented Intelligence’

    The term “artificial intelligence” is a misnomer for AI – it should really be known as “augmented intelligence.”

    Here’s example: An AI program was given a list of paint colors and names. It was then told to name a new set of paint colors. The results (you can read about it on included some less-than-appealing names, such as “Clardic Fug,” “Stargoon,” “Burble Simp,” and “Light of Blast.”

    So, it’s pretty safe to say that AI won’t be making closing arguments in court any time soon.

    It’s much better to think of legal research AI tools as helpers. Just like Siri and Alexa can help you perform quick searches of the internet through voice recognition software or a Roomba can vacuum your house while you’re away, legal research AI tools can help you do routine work that can then free up your time to work on more complex tasks that an AI can’t do.

    Using AI for Legal Analytics

    One area in which legal AI tools excel is in legal analytics – i.e., taking huge amounts of data and analyzing them in order to find patterns.

    Emma BablerEmma Babler is a reference & technology librarian at the U.W. Law Library. She is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin, a chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

    What would be monumental tasks for humans are no sweat for new legal AI tools. They can mine data contained in records, like court dockets and documents, then aggregate that data to show patterns in behavior of individuals involved in the legal process – like lawyers, judges, and law firms.

    This means that you can see, for example, how likely a particular claim may be in front of a particular judge, or discern how often judges in the same circuit grant certain types of motions in comparison to their colleagues.

    You can use the resulting data for strategizing: Seeing that the judge for your case rarely grants a certain type of motion may persuade you to try something different.

    This type of data might give you a competitive advantage. Instead of wondering about rumors that your judge is “plaintiff-friendly,” you can now use data to learn that your judge, for example, rules a certain way on an issue 75 percent of the time.

    Currently, you can use legal AI tools for data analysis, research, prediction, and e-discovery. Since you won’t need to spend hours and hours poring through data, the work the legal AI does can free you up to work on legal analysis. The AI isn’t “smart” enough on its own to form a legal argument, but it can provide you with the data to back yours up.

    Tools for Legal AI Analytics, Document Analysis

    The number of legal analytics tools is growing.

    Two worth checking out are Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Intelligence Center (a huge wealth of litigation analytics, keyed to the corresponding dockets in Bloomberg Law) and Lex Machina via Lexis.

    Lex Machina, for instance, has a “motion kickstarter” tool to see motions that have recently come before a trial judge. Lex Machina links the briefing and eventual case order for each case together, allowing you to identify successful arguments in front of this judge in recent cases.

    It’s much better to think of legal research AI tools as helpers.

    In addition to litigation analytics, legal AI tools can also help in document analysis. Case Text’s CARA tool checks your brief to see if you have missed citing any key cases. Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? But it’s science fact!

    You may have noticed changes to how you can search in Lexis and Westlaw of late. Westlaw recently unveiled Westlaw Edge, which incorporates AI tools to help you do better searches on Westlaw.

    Both legal research platforms now incorporate “smart” searching using AI. When you begin typing into the search bar, suggestions pop up for you. You can also type legal questions into the search bar, and it will retrieve an answer.

    More to Come

    Many of these tools are still developing, and I’m sure there are many more out there still in primary stages. We are on the cusp of some incredible technological advancement in this area, and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what comes next.

    For more on legal analytics, see “Data-driven Decisions: Using Legal Analytics to Up Your Game,” by law librarian Laura Olsen, in the April 4, 2018, issue of InsideTrack.

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