Lately, you’ve probably read more than a few headlines about “robot lawyers,” with many of the articles including dire predictions that artificial intelligence (AI) software will soon take over legal jobs, leaving lawyers in the dust. Rest assured, that’s not going to happen any time soon. High end legal analytics work will be in high demand for years to come, and AI software won’t be able to compete with the knowledge and skill-set of most lawyers.

That being said, there’s a reason for all the hype. Legal software that takes advantage of AI has a lot of potential. It can increase efficiency by tackling mundane legal work, allowing lawyers to focus on more interesting, high-level tasks. The bottom line is that instead of replacing lawyers AI software will only serve to increase efficiency and streamline the work performed by lawyers, saving both time and money.

Of course, one of the main roadblocks to AI adoption by lawyers is the element of trust. Lawyers are unlikely to use the software unless they trust the results it provides.

As the results of the American Bar Association’s latest Legal Technology Survey Report show, most lawyers don’t yet trust AI software to provide accurate results. The majority of lawyers – 51% – cited accuracy as the main roadblock to implementing AI legal software in their firms. For another 48%, reliability of AI technology was a concern that prevented them from using it. Other reasons given for being reluctant to use AI software in their law firms included cost to  implement (46%), time to learn (37%), and difficulty changing law firm processes (31%). Only 1% of lawyers surveyed indicated that they had no concerns about implementing AI software in their law firm.

Given the many concerns about AI software cited by the lawyers surveyed, it’s no surprise that only a small percentage of lawyers – 8% – reported that their law firms currently use AI software. Large law firm with 100 or more lawyers led the way at 26%. Only 5% of firms with 2-9 attorneys used AI technology, 4% of solo lawyers, and 0% of lawyers from firms with 10-49 attorneys.

When it comes to those who are considering using it in the near future – the numbers aren’t much better. 9% of the lawyers surveyed indicated that their firms were seriously considering purchasing artificial intelligence-based technology tools. Again large firms with 100 or more lawyers were the most likely to plan to do so at 16%.

The reasons for their interest in AI legal software ran the gamut. 41% indicated that indicated that AI tools saved time and increased efficiency. For 24% a primary perceived benefit was that AI software  could help with document management and  document review. Next up was the potential to reduce costs at 21% followed by predicting outcomes/reducing risk at 15%.

Finally, the lawyers surveyed were asked when they expected that AI software would become mainstream in the legal profession. 16% predicted this would occur within the next 3 years. This was followed by 19% who expected this would occur within 4-5 years, 20% who predicted 6-10 years, and 10% who predicted more than 10 years.

These numbers are to be expected since AI tools are a relatively new technology. Lawyers were equally reticent about social media and cloud computing adoption just a few years ago, but now the majority of lawyers use both. AI software adoption by lawyers will follow the same trajectory, and I predict that in 3-4 years, at least half of all lawyers will use AI tools daily in their practices, even if they don’t realize that they’re doing so.

In part my prediction is grounded in evidence that the software is already more trustworthy than most lawyers think, as evidenced by this study conducted in November of 2018, which offers evidence that AI can perform some legal tasks far more quickly, and just as accurately as lawyers.

In this study, 20 experienced lawyers reviewed 5 Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to locate risks, as did the AI software. 4 independent individuals audited the study to ensure accuracy, and the results showed that the output of machines was significantly more accurate than that of the lawyers. The machine’s accuracy level was 94% while the lawyers’ was 85%. The software also provided results much more quickly than the lawyers, with the lawyers taking an average of 92 minutes to review the contracts, while the AI software took a mere 26 seconds.

So if you’re one of those lawyers who’s on the fence regarding the trustworthiness of AI legal software, maybe it’s time to reconsider. There are a host of AI tools for lawyers that are already available that can save your law firm time and money.

But if you’re not ready to commit to AI software to help streamline your law firm’s processes, never fear! There are plenty of tools available in traditional law practice management software that can help you automate and streamline your law firm. Download this FREE guide, “Tips for Automating Your Law Practice,” to learn more.

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