By Kamal Patel, CEO of Juta – the company that for the past 167-years has provided the legal industry with iconic authored works, law reports, statutes, journals, and innovative legal technology in South Africa.
Legal analytics and cognitive computing technology has evolved significantly over the past decade, and this is likely to accelerate over the coming years. This technology has transformed the legal industry and now provides the legal professional with insights like never before. The legal professional must prepare to leverage an augmented capability that will vastly enhance speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness of their legal research and ultimately, the acquisition of knowledge.
Knowledge acquisition will always be the backbone upon which legal professionals practice their craft. Juta has been a pioneer in the adoption and introduction of technology to support this key capability of the legal professional and in 2002 began the move from the provision of legal research based entirely on books, to electronic platforms that delivered more value and functionality. It didn’t make the role of legal researchers obsolete or change the practice of law, instead it made their roles more effective by augmenting the process of knowledge acquisition with technology.
Similarly, legal analytics technology has accelerated legal research results. The two processes, while different, are complimentary. Legal analytics is defined as being able to source data from legal documents, to reveal insights that inform legal strategy; and legal research provides the answers to questions or the legal precedent.
What has changed however, with the introduction of technology, is the agility, depth and simplicity of outcomes because of the vast amount of data that can be mined at speeds beyond human manual input.
Legal analytics today relies on advanced technologies such as cognitive computing, which in essence is the ability for machines to learn from algorithms a sequence of instructions that humans’ input. Together with natural language processing, millions of law reports, legislation and inter-related documents are analysed, providing previously unknown insights of the actions and decisions that underpin similar cases.
A legal position or case can therefore be strengthened and enhanced with deeper, more extensive knowledge, that includes; the judges and lawyers; the courts; organisations; lawsuit subjects; and trends and patterns in past litigations. These results are indispensable to informing legal strategy, and as technology further advances with the development of artificial intelligence, even likely outcomes in current cases will be presented.
From an in-house approach key decisions can be made that inform business strategy or the type of outside legal counsel that should be employed to litigate a case. The speed at which technological legal analytics provides insights allows in-house legal minds to make decisions in minutes rather than the weeks it would have taken had manual legal input been used, which is invaluable given how quickly legal issues arise in today’s corporate environment.
To give you some perspective of the speed, consider this case from the US, which was cited in a 2017 article by Law Technology Today. Post a pharmaceutical merger, the general counsel of the acquirer requested a full risk assessment of the patent portfolio of the acquired company. This information was required within two weeks, which under usual circumstances was considered a very tight deadline. Using legal analytics, the outside counsel was able to access the entire litigation history in minutes.
Our Jutastat Evolve product, however innovative today, is designed to keep pace with technology and is doing so with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). Across global communities the introduction of AI into legal analytics and research is becoming more affordable, and easier to access.
And here we are … the enhanced capabilities of storing and accessing electronic data has provided the base for the rapid rise in AI capabilities, and the justification for its use comes not, just from the investment, but in time savings too. As set out succinctly in the Wall Street Journal in 2019, AI teaches computers how to learn, reason, perceive, infer, communicate and make decisions in the same manner that humans do. This is happening at such a rate and level, that it would be senseless for legal practitioners and their associates not to tap into that power.
There are two significant ways that AI is enabled. The first is through machine learning, where computers are taught to make decisions, by way of algorithm application, and the second, which is intelligent learning, where very advanced algorithms are applied to perform complicated tasks such as data mining for legal research.
As all legal professionals know, the more a task is performed, the better we become. Think about a young associate at a law firm who requires mentoring and guidance to achieve experience. This can be likened to AI; as the programme, backed by development in algorithm’s advances in capabilities, the more insightful the results. Over time, this relationship with data input and algorithm output become an indispensable part of knowledge acquisition.
It’s not human or machine, but rather it is human and machine. Technology platforms like Jutastat Evolve is augmenting the legal professional by providing legal insights like never before, empowering the professional with more accurate and comprehensive results at a faster pace. The platform is designed to provide advanced access to more than a century-long repository of knowledge, and continues to grow exponentially with technology advancements.
Those who will realise the greatest benefits from the future of legal analytics in legal research tasks, are those that are laying the groundwork today, for the support of intelligent decision-making of tomorrow. This is only as good as the information that drives that; and Juta knows how to leverage information to drive value for the practice of law today and into the future.
For more information on the Jutastat Evolve platform visit www.jutastatevolve.co.za