Unlike other industries, the vast majority of legal departments have yet to embrace artificial intelligence. According to a 2017 survey by HBR Consulting, only 6 percent of law departments have already implemented an AI-enabled technology.  

Despite the slow adoption rate, artificial intelligence, and more specifically, machine learning, offer the possibility to radically transform your organization for the better. Deloitte predicts that by 2020, legal firms will face a "tipping point" during which AI and automation will be too important to ignore. In this article, we'll go over everything you need to decide whether AI is right for your legal department.  

How to Know If You Need AI  

The modern legal department is plagued with challenges and inefficiencies. Although nearly all legal departments could benefit from artificial intelligence, certain processes and workflows are especially amenable to automation. Look for tasks that are tedious, repetitive, time-consuming, and follow a predictable order.  

By passing off these activities to AI-enabled software tools, your employees will be able to spend more time on high-level strategic thinking for your business. For example, possible use cases of artificial intelligence for legal departments include:  

  • Automation: When it comes to contract management, AI-enabled contract management software utilizes machine learning to automate tasks for easier implementation and organization. For example, an AI-enhanced contract management software with machine learning could allow you to upload a set of contracts and have those documents automatically tagged for specific information including parties, start and end dates, terms, values, and even type of contract.  
  • E-discovery: Finding the right data and evidence during a legal case is often incredibly monotonous. AI and machine learning technologies can drastically speed up the e-discovery process, sifting through documents and emails for the right keywords and concepts.  
  • Better decision-making: Today's enterprises collect vast quantities of information, much of which can be used to make smarter business decisions. AI-enabled software can make help you and your team make educated judgments about which cases are most promising to pursue, or what the likely outcome of a given case will be.

An AI-enabled Contract Management Solution  

Traditionally, contract management has been an intricate, challenging, labor-intensive activity. Legal teams need to track the terms, conditions, requirements, deliverables, and deadlines for each contract under their supervision. However, this is rapidly changing thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence. While the potential applications of AI for legal departments are only beginning to emerge, AI innovations are already improving contract management processes.  

For example, once an organization uploads its contracts to a central repository, AI can help with the crucial steps of organization and visibility. As mentioned above, documents that in the past were manually tagged are now processed via AI auto-tagging, making it easier to search documents and classify them based on certain criteria: beginning and end dates, term information, contracted parties, contract type, etc.

What benefits can legal teams see from AI-enhanced contract management tools now?  

The potential for AI to improve contract management will continue to grow as technologies emerge and improve. Already, automated tagging features reduce many implementation challenges while also providing the following benefits:

  • Better Organization and Visibility - While text-based searches can help you to look within contracts, the key to a manageable contract repository is having a strong organizational structure. Effective contract organization allows for easy visibility of key information while also providing an accurate overview of your full contract portfolio.    
  • Risk Management  - Identifying the information you need to monitor for each and every contract can be a cumbersome task in and of itself. Additionally, if key contract-related dates are unknown or not tracked effectively, there's a good chance a significant deadline or milestone will get missed. Software with AI-automated tagging reduces the burden of milestone management, putting you and your team into a better position to identify, monitor, and mitigate risk. While AI automation will never replace the need for human oversight, the added functionality provides a powerful tool that can help your team improve risk management.  

The Human Touch

As stated above it is important to keep in mind that human oversight will always be essential to the proper application of AI-enabled software. In fact, the fear that robots will replace lawyers is farfetched and unfounded. After all, an algorithm is only as good as the data it receives. You and your team will still be required to supervise the application of AI, especially as machine learning evolves. So while AI-enabled software can categorize, tag, highlight, and outlines a contract (or even an entire repository), staff will need to monitor and manage the system.

Conclusion

Determining the ROI of your AI solution can be tricky, and it depends on what your business is needs. Below are four questions to help you get started:

  • Do you have basic tasks automated?
  • Do you need a specialized solution?
  • Do you trust the data in your contracts?

Ready to delve deeper into the possibilities presented by automation, machine learning, and the latest advances in contract management solutions? Check out our latest ebook, The Contract Management Selection Guide, and discover a bevy of tips and tools to help you decide if and when to upgrade your current system.