The technology industry is constantly growing and citizens of Arizona are likely not aware of every technology advancement that could impact the way they live and do business.

Screenwriters in Hollywood have appeals to sci-fi lovers by capitalizing on these advances with technological futures such as robots and computers that can communicate with real language just like a human being using artificial intelligence.

Whatever mysterious technologies are being created beyond the public’s view on Hollywood movie sets, there is an advancement that is happening right now and has the potential to affect anyone.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is currently being used as a supplement to law firms all around the country in capacities such as document production. And experts say much like email changed the way attorneys do business every day, AI will become an indispensable assistant to practically every lawyer.

Although, AI will never replace the professional or personal aspect of an attorney, it will certainly change the way attorneys do their jobs.

Changes coming

Emerging software companies, such as IPro Tech, which is based in Arizona, are creating tools to help attorneys sort through document production for various cases.

For example, the computer can identify the most pertinent information available in large databases or case files. AI helps the attorney find the “needle in the haystack” of legal documents that can become the most useful information for a case.

AI can mine the documents for evidence that would be useful during litigation, review and create contracts, identify potential fraud within companies and complete legal research before acquisitions.

“It allows the document review itself to be more efficient and more targeted to what is needed,” says Laura Rogal, a partner at Jaburg Wilk and an expert in effective use of technology.

At present, these duties are completely up to the attorney themselves, which is equivalent to an office filled with piles of paperwork.

How it helps

Obviously, sifting through paperwork is not the most glamorous part of an attorney’s job.

Lets say they get 10,000 pages of document production from another party as part of a lawsuit and they’re looking for 10 key issues within those pages.

With AI document review, the attorney inputs the documents into one of these programs and the program actually reads the document itself and flags those keywords or phrases that the attorney is looking for and then those documents can be reviewed that have that key information.

Jaburg Wilk uses the local software company, IPro Tech, but is opening its doors to even more technological growth in the future.

“I went to the ABA Techshow earlier this year and there were probably 50 vendors offering some version of AI for legal services,” says Rogal. The ABA Techshow Conference and EXPO is where lawyers and legal professionals can learn about the most useful and practical technologies available.

Rogal is familiar with the growth of this technology, but this kind of AI use requires a lot of training for each field it may be working with, which means that attorneys have to be wary of its capabilities.

“We have an ethical obligation to oversee the technology,” Rogal says. “Right now, our ethical rules require us to use and understand technology, but we cannot allow the technology to replace our decision-making processes.”

Rogal says if the technology does not pick up on something and the attorney doesn’t double check, there could be serious ramifications.

“That is on us and that would be our malpractice,” says Rogal.

What’s ahead?

The future of AI and the law industry is certainly bright as more and more law firms adopt it into their workdays and see potential for its supplementation to their jobs.

Fennemore Craig is another one of the first national law firms to engage with artificial intelligence resources in order to enhance its legal research.

Fennemore Craig attorney Marc Lamber, whom the ABA Journal named among the “Techiest Lawyers in America,” says, “Just like any emerging technology — like how self-driving cars have the potential to eliminate certain roles of drivers in the taxi and limousine services industry — artificial intelligence may impact research roles in the legal field.”

Fennemore Craig has partnered with Ross Intelligence, which is one of the larger legal research software companies providing artificial intelligence in the United States.

“At present, Ross is focused on offering case law and currently covers the practice areas of bankruptcy and intellectual property,” Lamber says. “The areas of labor and employment, tax, and insurance are soon to follow here at the firm.”

Still, there is very little chance of AI taking over the job of an attorney due to its inability to negotiate or determine the most persuasive case while studying case law.

“Let’s say, we do legal research right now and if I type in an issue, I might pull up 320 cases that are all on that same issue and I might know that one of those cases is more persuasive than another,” Rogal says. “But for AI to get there, that’s gonna be difficult, especially if some of them are using reasonably close enough language. It’s an interpretation issue. Maybe in 15 years or so, it will be closer to that point, but it still won’t be able to supplant attorneys in the legal field.”

There are just certain training issues that are still being worked out and the most prevalent assistance that AI can give attorneys as of right now is document production.

A computer may be able to learn a language and determine the best suited key words for a legal case, but it is still not able to negotiate with others or analyze a case as far as determining persuasion or even picking up on its own mistake, which is why attorneys are still ethically required to double check its work.

However, it is close to entering  into all areas of law, rather than just the few pockets to which it’s recently been exposed.

“We’ve kind of gotten past the initial hiccup stage, so I give it two to five years before it falls into all pockets of the law industry,” Rogal says. “It just needs a few years of evolution.”