Artificial Intelligence is a mechanism through which computers are programmed to undertake tasks which otherwise are done by the human brain.  Like every other thing, it also has pros and cons to it. While the usage of Artificial Intelligence can help in completing a task in a few minutes on the other hand, if it worked as well as it is deemed to, it could potentially take away employment of thousands of people across the country. The growing influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be seen across various industries, from IT to farming, from manufacturing to customer service. The Indian Legal Industry, meanwhile, has always been a little slower to adapt to technology and has seen minimal changes to superior technology. This is promulgated by several lawyers still feeling comfortable with the same old system of functioning that was designed decades ago. AI has managed to disrupt other industries. W ith an ever growing pendency and increasing demand for self-service systems even in the legal fraternity, this once assumed-to-be utopian idea can become a reality for all lawyers. Some of the concerning questions that will be addressed in this article are as follows:

  1. What are the changes that the Indian legal system has already witnessed?;
  2. What legal problems can AI solve in India?;
  3. What are the changes needed for the AI systems in India and the road ahead?

What are the changes that the Indian legal system has already witnessed?

The Introduction of AI into the legal system has made a drastic impact on the legal fraternities across the globe. The first global player to attempt using AI for legal purposes was through the IBM Watson powered robot ‘ROSS’, which used a unique method by mining data and interpreting trends and patterns in the law to solve research questions. Interestingly, the area that will get most affected is not the litigation process or arbitration matters, but in fact the back-end work for the litigation and arbitration purposes such as research, data storage and usage, etc.

Due to the sheer volume of cases and diversity in case matters, the Indian laws and their interpretations keep changing and developing further. If lawyers could have access to AI-Based technology that could help with research matters then the labour cost of research work could be significantly reduced, leading to the profitability and significant increase in the speed of getting work done. While this could lead to the reduction of staff members, i. e. Paralegals and some associates, it would also increase the overall productivity for all lawyers and lead to the fast-tracking of legal research and drafting.

One of the best examples is the usage of the AI-based Software Kira by Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas that examines, identifies and provides a refined search on the specific data needed with a reportedly high degree of precision. This reportedly has allowed the firm to focus on more important aspects of the litigation process and has reduced the repetitive and monotonous work usually done by paralegals, interns and other entry-level employees.

In fact, several noted Jurists and Judges have spoken in good terms about the necessity of such AI-Based software that could be useful for the docketing system and simple decision making process. Some of the statements made by these eminent personalities are as follows:

Justice SA Bobde had said : “…We must increasingly focus on harnessing IT and IT enabled services (ITES) for providing more efficient and cost-effective access to and delivery of justice. This must also include undertaking serious study concerning the future of Artificial Intelligence in law, especially how Artificial Intelligence can assist in judicial decision making. I believe exploring this interface would be immensely beneficial for many reasons. For instance, it would allow us to streamline courts caseloads through enabling better court management. This would be a low hanging fruit. On the other end of the spectrum, it will allow us to shift the judicial time from routine-simple-straightforward matters (e.g. cases which are non-rivalrous) and apply them to more complex-intricate matters that require more human attention and involvement.Therefore, in India identification of such matters and developing relevant technology ought to be our next focus.

Justice DY Chandrachud said : “The idea of Artificial Intelligence is not to supplant the human brain or the human mind or the presence of judges but to provide a facilitative tool to judges to reassess the processes which they follow, to reassess the work which they do and to ensure that their outcome are more predictable and consistent and ultimately provide wider access to justice to the common citizens. ”

What legal problems can AI solve in India?

While the country admittedly has a massive issue with respect to its judicial system owing to the massive pendency and huge volume of unresolved cases, the inclusion of AI can help with resolving a majority of its problems. The introduction of technological advancement will aid the lawyers in conducting legal research in an efficient and timely manner and thus will ensure AI software equipped lawyers to focus more on advising their clients and taking up complex issues/cases. It also helps in assessing a potential outcome to pending cases and could be of great assistance to the courts and private parties to help them decide on which cases to pursue, which ones to resolve amicably if possible and which ones to let go of!

Some of the benefits of implementing the nation-wide use of AI systems are as follows:

  1. Helping lawyers find relevant case laws and statutes in a SMART way: AI softwares can help narrow down on cases that are relevant to the lawyers without having to use physical documents or search engine websites. These traditional processes take more time and labour to achieve hence it would be more feasible to use AI softwares that finds relevant cases and statutes easily. Adding NLP and AI to case law research could actually also help legal professionals generate strongly precedented legal opinions.
  2. Solving complex legal questions into simple solutions: AI systems can be used to solve problems that are more complex within a few minutes, thus ensuring the quality and unbiasedness remains. It helps in providing quality output to clients. It extracts data points from past case laws and provides judgements and precedent law to be used by lawyers in their present cases.
  3. Drafting and reviewing the contracts/documents: AI systems are actually much more advanced than understood, in fact, the clerical role of lawyers will be significantly reduced to a large extent. By just submitting the required clauses and details which one would wish to incorporate in the legal document, all the necessary information would be uploaded in the documents and would be ready to use within minutes or a system to properly docket, extract and highlight relevant information for both parties to understand their liabilities, obligations, etc.
  4. Ensuring Due Diligence: Due Diligence is an important function performed by law firms, but due to its comprehensiveness and need for caution human error can always creep in. While conducting due diligence AI could be of great help and it helps with collating relevant information and provide extra insights for completing diligence projects, making the process more efficient and accurate. It accelerates the procedure, eliminates manual errors, and allows lawyers to provide a better overall experience for their clients.
  5. Ensuring live-tracking of completed work and Electronic Billing: Most AI software has the capacity to maintain a record of the work being done and thus helps the lawyers and firms in preparing the invoices as per the work done by them. This ensures a new level of transparency in the work being done, thus benefiting the Lawyers/Firms, the clients and the auditing authorities.

What are the changes needed for the AI systems in India and the road ahead?

While there are several benefits to Lawyers/Firms and the Judiciary for implementing AI into the Legal fraternity, there are a few caveats as well. With any form of technology for the matter, the risk of data infringement, cyber-attacks and hacking attempts are a constant threat. Incorrect software is also an issue that has often been a question over technology, especially over those technologies that are relatively untested and new in the market.

There are also some questions regarding the nature of ethics of an AI. An important point to keep in mind is that Artificial Intelligence software does not have a mind of their own. Although they do think before taking an action, their actions are completely programmed and there is always an issue of trustworthiness as AI needs to have a defined ethical purpose and technically robust and reliable systems. These issues were also seen to persist in the highly acclaimed ROSS, which saw several glitches.

There is also another issue that arises with implementing Artificial Intelligence. The affordability of these AI software is a factor that needs deliberation. The maintenance of these AI facilities are an added concern, with firms investing in privatised AI research facilities as mentioned earlier. Thus the investment that would be required to establish and operate would be expensive, thus making a division of technological capabilities ab initio. This is also taking into factor the unknown probability of the learning curve involved in dealing with the lawyers, firms and judiciary members who utilize such technology.

With these challenges kept in mind, the regulations with respect to AI use must be kept in mind, particularly with respect to how the judiciary uses it. There has and there always will be a sense of mistrust in technologies such as these, but the progress needs to be made slowly and cannot be drastically at this point, without understanding its legal, financial and security implications. The following actions must be taken when the usage of AI is eventually implemented:

  1. Awareness of AI Capabilities: The first issue that comes up while using AI is the general mistrust of technology that can think for itself, hence for the sake of getting rid of such fears and ignorance of its applications, awareness can be raised regarding the same. The most important fact that must be made aware of is that AI should not be designed with the thought of replacing lawyers or judges or any other person in the judicial system but to only be an addition to the already existing system to streamline it, speed it up and ensure transparency. The Bar Council of India could circulate forms and other electronic media regarding the applications, limitations and capabilities of AI so that there is no confusion or stigma associated with it.
  2. Using it for clerical work and cases requiring minimal thought application by the courts: Another matter is that AI should never be used as a primary deciding authority. All its opinions and judgements should come from precedents and not its own thinking process. In the initial stages of understanding its effectiveness and for the legal system to start accepting the use of AI, it can be used as a tool to lessen the burden on the Judiciary by resolving simple cases, thus leaving breathing room for the judges to decide cases that require more complex thinking.
  3. Training Lawyers/Advocates/Students to use AI diligently and effectively: As the development of AI in the judicial system is still at the nascent stage, this would be the optimal time to train the lawyers and the to-be lawyers on handling AI systems. Unemployment is a constant threat but the addition of AI into the legal system is in fact a new source of employment where there would be a need for strategic roles with them being able to instruct and assist the AI mind in the researching aspects. This will not only remove any false assumptions about AI but also provide a platform of AI-ready lawyers who can use such softwares to bring about innovation in client services and help maintain higher profit margins for their firms.