The purpose of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a broad discipline of computer science, is to construct systems that can work autonomously and intelligently. It can be described as an intelligent machine capable of thinking, understanding, and acting on its own, as well as the ability to mimic certain human behaviours. Due to these characteristics, artificial intelligence is a system designed to solve problems that we humans would normally solve using our natural intelligence. The goal of AI development is to meet the need for and desire for automation in today’s fast-paced human lifestyle.
Although the legal services market is one of the largest in the world, it is generally perceived to be under-digitized in its operations. The legal profession is fairly conservative in its approach and hesitant to adopt new technologies. That said, it is not in doubt that AI has the potential to transform the way lawyers currently operate and the way law is viewed in Africa. Technology is relevant insofar as it fosters efficiency, transparency, and objectivity in public government. For example, AI can be utilized as a facilitative tool for judges enabling them to check, recheck, evaluate their work, their work process, and their judgments. Such a tool automates court processes providing an opportunity for increased access to justice in the long run. Currently, the nature of the African legal profession is such that processes are done manually since the legal sector is still believed to be a human enterprise. As a result, AI is still in its early phases, with its growth detained by many seasoned and experienced lawyers who claim that technology should not be employed extensively as it undermines legal modus operandi such as its fiduciary characteristics.
However, with the wild growth of AI technology, the many hours that were previously necessary to complete the arduous work of going through substantial documentation has decreased profoundly inflating the bargain to the detriment of anti-AI lawyers. It has become notorious in many ways that the legal sector can profit in a variety of ways by utilizing AI technology to its advantage to operate efficiently.
Increase Productivity and Cut Costs
By automating procedures and processes, AI can aid in streamlining the operations of the legal department. An example is through utilizing software execute administrative operations greatly reducing costs expenses on human resource and time. Technically, AI can guide legal strategy and mitigate contract risks by detecting weak links in documents with the net result of a more efficient and better service to clients. A renowned example is eBrevia, a company founded with Columbia University’s facilitation, which uses machine learning and techniques specifically natural language processing and AI-driven software to reduce the time spent analyzing contracts, to speed up the research and review process.
Legal Document Analysis
The AI software recognizes crucial patterns and assists in determining correlations. It also assists legal practitioners in their cases by providing judgments and precedent laws that they can employ. Artificial intelligence(AI) can examine large contracts at an incredible pace.
Because legal practitioners analyze many legal papers, the due diligence process uses up a large number of working hours. Converting and organizing all of these critical documents is an exhausting and time-consuming procedure. However, now that AI technologies are available, the time-consuming task of due diligence is completed much more swiftly and accurately. Studies have demonstrated that AI systems evaluate legal documents significantly faster and more accurately with the use of machine learning technologies. Kira Systems is one such company that accurately does due diligence tests, which is significantly faster than manual (human) evaluation.
Due to the complex nature of legal research, it takes a long time and becomes monotonous, and with the tight deadlines that most law firms must meet, they require quick and accurate legal research work. This problem can be solved by employing AI software, which enhances efficiency and accuracy. It also saves time because AI presents relevant case rules with a single click, which is useful for supporting judges in making quick decisions. ROSS Intelligence uses machine-run software to quickly evaluate and review contract agreements, as well as highlight essential documents. Also, Law firms like Bowmans, Webber Wentzel, and KTA Advocates have adopted AI to improve their legal services delivery. Bowmans was one of the first enterprises in Africa to adopt and roll out an AI product, with six offices in four countries (Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda). It accomplishes this by automating time-consuming tasks like legal research, allowing lawyers to focus on higher-level responsibilities.
The challenge with AI
AI though very useful presents different challenges that have made its implementation in the legal stratosphere difficult as shown below:
Privacy and Personal Data Protection
AI-driven machine learning robots are built in such a way that the parties’ personal information is kept safe and secure. However, because machine learning works with large amounts of data, there are various loopholes such as limited regulation of AI that may lead to the unauthorized access of personal data.
Deficiencies in systems and data
Machine learning is based on and is based on the algorithms that are input into computer systems. One of the biggest obstacles to implementing AI technology in India currently is that the obsolete technology and machines utilized often do not complete the data, nor do they accurately perform unless a large quantity of reliable data is provided.
Reluctancy by legal professionals
When we look at Africa, artificial intelligence in law is still in its early days. Lawyers still refuse to adopt this technology and are scared to death of being replaced. They fear that technology will kill the goose that lays golden eggs for the lawyer, legal administrator, and other workers in the field. Most senior lawyers are afraid to change their practices without adopting AI would rather stick to their existing modus operandi.
Notwithstanding these challenges, advances in AI technology have certainly already altered the view of the legal industry. The fact that AI is an efficient alternative is not in contention with clear benefits to both the bench and the bar.
Can AI replace lawyers?
While AI has many incredible features, it is hard to see the technology fully replacing lawyers in the foreseeable future. AI cannot formulate a reality-based strategy, is not creative and cannot improvise to situations, and generally lack a sense of emotional intelligence for a field founded on trust and relationships. This relegates the immense powers of AI to only a collaborative role to lawyers at most.
There is also a policy gap with a loose regulatory framework to control artificial intelligence to deal with important issues such as client data. The meaningful integration of AI in the legal sector is only achievable once there is a legal framework to oversee its actions to reduce the risks associated with it. We need a fair and balanced approach to ensuring the inclusion of AI, including the suggestion for a strong regulatory framework that lays down the obligations and liabilities of this intelligent machine, who accounts in case of a breach, among other concerns.
In conclusion, therefore, the way meaningful way forward begs that the players in the legal sector in Uganda and Africa do not shy away from this technological progress but take it on and embrace the benefits of AI to enhance their competence. However, this forward momentum must be supported by policymakers who must ensure that it is as safe as possible for everyone involved.