May 28 by Niki Lotte
What would you do if your back-office Legal team was staffed by robots? If you’re imagining the Terminator dressed in a business suit diligently going through your eDiscovery process, your imagination might be closer to reality than you realize.
According to University of Oxford researchers, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, robots will be in your legal department by year 2033.
Now before you panic, I’m not saying the study suggests lawyers will be replaced by robots per se, but rather Legal departments’ more tedious tasks—such as drafting and reviewing contracts—will be reassigned to analytic technology as automated assignments.
The Next-Step Advantage
Reassigning menial tasks like contract administration to robots
actually makes a lot of sense. Not only would this allow Legal departments to stretch their budgets, but automating and standardizing these processes reduces the risks posed by human error. Algorithms can even mimic natural language so communication with customers can still be a relationship-building endeavor.
But why stop at communication? These same advances in technology could also be used to better organize Legal information and data. Legal departments may eventually be able to use that data to better predict negotiation requests or the amount of risk associated with specific clauses. These algorithms may one day be able to adapt and react to changes in data or environment on their own while still remaining accurate, almost like a more exemplary HAL 9000. This sort of quantitative legal prediction can make forecasting easier and more accurate, and provide you the
next-step advantage you’ve been looking for.
Case in point, a major pharmaceutical company was able to reduce contract compliance violations using eDiscover technology. They wanted to identify and avert the potential liability associated with unapproved patent populations, Sunshine Law compliance, unsupported product claims and off-label marketing. The legal department gathered keywords, concepts and metadata from subject-matter experts to construct a document model that reflected these practices which could subject them to risk. The company then used predictive, concept and relationship analytics on this profile and their compiled data to automatically and proactively pull their 1% of documents indicating potential contract compliance violations.
If you feel good about your contract compliance processes in place, have you considered post-merger integration risk? Following a series of mergers, the legal and IT teams at a financial institution wanted to decommission the legacy email systems of several acquired companies. In order to avoid significant regulatory and legal hold risks, they used a number of analytic technologies to automatically de-duplicate and isolate high-risk data that would typically be retained and scrutinized under legal hold requirements. The benefits included a substantial risk reduction and 40% reduction in data to be migrated.
Getting Ahead of the Game
What should you be spending your time on today? Certainly not wasting hours and resources combing through contracts, trying to make sense of your data to avoid risk?
What if you could automatically redline all changes made to documents and have access to an audit trail? Or automatically generate contracts in seconds, complete with the correct Legal language, format and relevant clause? Or assess the risk associated with each clause and even configure more protective phrasing to keep you and your company out of trouble? How about monitoring both parties for contract compliance? It would be like terminating your administrative tasks so you can spend your time on what matters. These are the types of legal reasoning and innovative thinking you have the potential to do, even in 2015.