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Five ways to use artificial intelligence in your law practice, now

Much has been written in recent times about the benefits and challenges which artificial intelligence offers to the legal profession.

Automated document review offers the benefits of saving time reviewing large volumes of documents in tasks like discovery.

But for lawyers outside of large firms, sometimes it doesn’t feel like there are many offerings are available. 

However, there are a few ways in which AI can save even the small legal practice time. Below are just 5 ways to start using artificial intelligence, that will save you time, and also wont cost you anything.

1.    Siri (or Alexa or Google Assistant)

With Siri, you can keep your practice humming whilst you’re on the go. Siri makes it easy to:

·      dictate a an appearance report as you walk back from court;

·      record a lightbulb moment, before you forget it; or

·      add reminders, like “call Steve on Friday morning”.

2.    Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Although it doesn’t seem that exciting, image recognition algorithms are classic AI algorithms, which are relied on heavily in driverless cars, for example. Using OCR in apps like Adobe Acrobat can take image-based (scanned paper) PDFs, and convert them to digital text. Being able to search a brief for keywords is one of the key skills that can turn you into a digital ninja.

3.    Excel pivot tables

Whilst this might seem less “AI” and more “analytics”, pivot tables are an amazing way to harness the data in your case. I have used Excel to great effect for:

a.     working out a defensible settlement sums (and ranges) for mediations; and

b.    summarising voluminous records for more effective cross-examination.

4.    Google searches

a.     Google’s autocomplete can help you find the right way to express what you’re looking for. Google’s algorithm can suggest results based on your location, your search history, your site visit history, your language settings, and more.

b.    Relatedly, picking the right search term can make all the difference to legal research. For example, if you’re searching for a point of law or procedure related to NSW courts, try adding “judcom” as the first search term. For example “judcom tendency evidence”. That will give you results from the Judicial Commission for NSW Bench Books, which is a great place to start looking.

5.    BarNet Jade for legal research

Jade’s team of editors score the relevance of new cases, as they are reported, making it possible for machine learning algorithms to better rank search results. There are also some useful visualisation citation tracking and visualisation tools to make your research more efficient and effective.