Artificial Intelligence And Legal Practice
Posted: 14/Jul/2020

As society alters, so do its needs, and a serviceable legal system must be able, in its development to take account of new social, political and economic requirements.
– Salmond
Ever since the dawn of history, man has been imbued with the proclivity to finding better ways of doing tasks. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that innovation has been a product of the society. From time immemorial, technology advancement has been a vital tool to achieving efficiency in professional tasks, law practice cannot take exception. Prior to covid-19 pandemic, there are barrage of problems bedeviling the Nigerian legal practice which serve as impediments to its sustainability. Ranging from slow delivery of judgment, access to justice, poor legal representation etc., it’s becoming a staggering reality that the hitherto ethos and prestige accorded to the legal profession are fast evanescing. Sadly, the justice system is, needlessly silhouetted, and thus, kept in abeyance in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. To say the least, the outlook of the legal practice in Nigeria is further exacerbated by the unprecedented occurrence of the covid-19, which has egregiously stalled court proceedings and the velocity of operation of every business facet. 

Factually speaking, aside time bound cases which need be heard for the exigency of time, Nigerian Supreme court is yet to adjudicate appeal filed before it since 2008 till date! With cases pilling up every day by day, and the existing problems to wit: under-staffing, orthodox method of adjudication and more, plaguing the judicial system, it’s becoming glaringly undeniable that it’s time we stepped up our game and embrace human assisted machine in this vital sector that forms the fulcrum of development in every society. The glaring reality is that, halting the sitting of the court due to global pandemic will deal a debilitating blow to the development of developing countries. The administration of justice, at all time, must be ticking unstoppable, stand immutable, and continuously progressing, and never for a second stop for whatsoever reason. Irrespective of the disaster bedeviling the society, we must, as a people device and embrace every practical means to make it works at all time, in fact, till thy kingdom come!  With this reality, it is doubly sure that the attendant effects of the phenomenal retardation in the administration of law and its practice come with debilitating effects, with the development of the society dancing dangerously to degradation.   However, the role of law practice in every cadre of society, whose quest for innovation and technology thrives and secured is very sacrosanct to the very basis of its existence. Therefore, an urgent need for radical shift towards thinking out of box, with a view to achieving effectiveness and efficiency in legal practice and make same sustainable, by embracing human imitating machine called Artificial Intelligence (AI), is glaringly evitable.

Efficiency simply put, is the quality of being able to do a task successfully without wasting time, materials or energy. Legal practice that are embracing powerful technology like Artificial Intelligence are working more productively and spending less time on complex legal tasks. An AI machine, usually, can perceive its environment, identify the contents of documents, efficiently; thus fewer rigors are deployed while much humongous tasks are performed.  Nigeria law practice embraces frontloading system, a system which makes judges and counsel to be overwhelmed with bulky documents to read and interpret. With the aid of AI machine, Andrew Aruda, the world’s first artificial intelligence lawyer and CEO of ROSS intelligence, used his insights as a lawyer to build ROSS. He, in a TED talk, canvasses vehemently, that law firms should adopt AI, propagating its abilities to help “lawyers serving on the front lines, get better results for their clients and become better lawyers in the process,” He further proposed, constructively, that AI could be used within law firms as a tool for boosting efficiency. The question is, how does artificial intelligence bring efficiency to law practice toward achieving sustainability? This can be answered in broad spectrums, I will, however, limit it to a few fundamental areas to wit: research, due diligence and trial.
Research is one of the fundamental tasks that is inherent in law practice. According to King George III, lawyers do not know much law more than the people, but they know better where to find the law. As a matter of fact, one of the very fundamentals that distinguish a sophisticated lawyer who is building a sustainable law practice is his ability to conduct an in-depth legal research. The fact is the orthodox method of conducting legal research which is laborious and energy sapping cannot breed sustainability in law practice due to the emerging trends in global social, economic and environmental phenomena. AI machine like the ROSS Intelligence brings efficiency to legal research by relieving the legal researcher of the rigor of browsing through shelve.

Due diligence in legal practice encompasses broad spectrum of activities professionally embarked upon by legal practitioners. It cuts across professional activities like Merger and Acquisition, Tax, Intellectual Property, Capital Market, Information and Communication Technology etc. The reality is that, the highest degree of reasonable level of care, voluminous of documents, legal status of the companies or individuals involved in commercial transactions which demand legal due diligence, no doubt is of great importance. With the aid of IManage due diligence machine, the task of clustering large content sets, discovery of documents and review, extraction of key data points from Merger & Acquisition documents and automation of renew process would be achieved with less stress and utmost efficiency. Research has shown that, many business organizations would be forced into different forms of business marriage.

Aside the above, Kira System Machine Learning is an AI machine used by Deloitte to review contracts accurately, with a view to achieving efficiency. In area of trial, United States of America for example advances her litigation practice with the use of AI machine called Lex Machina which assists lawyers to gain insights that enables them predict  the behavior of courts, judges, lawyers and parties to litigation. To cap this up, it can be convincingly concluded that the practicability of efficiency in law practice helps keep lawyers in the motion and keep up with the pace of modern trends, with a view to achieving sustainability in their practice. Sustainability in law practice entails meeting global standard practice in resolving dispute. The occurrence of the global health hazard, occasioned by coronavirus has changed the wave of every business activity. Since its inception, many firms have been held on hostage, directing their employees to work from home.

Balogun writes from Lagos via