Lawyers are busy people, yet according to McKinsey, 23% of the work they do could be automated. This includes work such as manually processing and analyzing high numbers of legal documents, onboarding new clients and searching for the information required to adequately represent a client. These tasks are all extremely time-consuming.
Today’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology is a game changer for the legal industry. One form of AI is intelligent document processing (IDP), which can automate the management and processing of data in a wide range of formats, freeing up a lawyer’s time to focus on more important tasks.
Data Challenges in the Legal Industry
The legal industry deals with massive amounts of data in both structured and unstructured formats. Structured data is data that fits neatly into categories, like those in a spreadsheet or database. Unstructured data is all other data, such as that contained within emails, text messages, faxes, images and forms.
In the legal industry, it is common for unstructured data to primarily exist in the form of emails and PDF and Word documents. Lawyers must deal with unstructured data in three specific areas:
- Document management
- eDiscovery (content in emails and email attachments)
- Due diligence
The other significant source of unstructured data exists in the form of case law and statutes that once existed only in books, but have been digitized over the past few decades. However, even in digital format, it can be time-consuming to search for and find information that is relevant to a case.
How IDP Works
IDP is capable of taking unstructured data and turning it into a structured format. This is critical in light of the fact that 80% of the information and data attorneys deal with on a daily basis is unstructured.
IDP requires human programming (training) to learn how to recognize and read certain types of documents. Once this programming is done, the IDP software can capture many different types of data in any format. IDP can:
- Read text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
- Interpret text using Natural Language Processing (NLP)
- Pull data from forms filled out by hand or online
- Use scanning software to capture hardcopy documents
- Pull information from digital documents
- Intake and process legal documents
- Compare and cross-reference information between documents
- Categorize information within documents
These capabilities make it possible to automate the capture, categorization and consolidation of data from multiple sources and in multiple formats. This level of data capture and integration eases the way for lawyers to build strong cases and successfully support their clients.
Legal IDP Use Cases
There are many ways IDP can transform the legal industry. It can make research faster, help manage documents, ensure due diligence and more. Here are a few IDP use cases for the legal industry.
Faster Legal Research
Traditionally, lawyers had to manually search through volume after volume of statutes and case law to find anything that might be relevant to their case. This was a tedious task that consumed many hours of a lawyer’s valuable time. Since the 1970s, this information has slowly been digitized, making it increasingly easier to find the right information.
However, determining what is relevant and what is not within these databases still requires tedious search efforts. With IDP, these files can be searched with increased speed and efficiency, categorizing relevant documents and pulling the exact information required and the proper reference for that material. This saves lawyers time that can be funneled into more meaningful tasks.
A large portion of the work done by lawyers is to review client contracts and determine if there are any issues with them. This contract review includes capturing the contents of the contract and relating them to the context in which they are provided, then making changes or providing notes in order to advise their client.
IDP can be used to conduct the contract review process, saving lawyers a significant amount of time. The information of one or more the contracts can be extracted and categorized into clauses or provisions, then compared to relevant standards. This organized information is then easy to analyze for anomalies.
Look for Patterns
Looking for patterns in legal cases is important. One example of this is determining whether a certain judge has a proclivity for ruling in a certain way in a specific type of case. This would be very difficult to determine manually, but with IDP, the past rulings of the judge can be assessed and a pattern, if there is one, can be easily identified. This can be extremely helpful when building a case that will be tried by a specific judge.
Implementing IDP requires an upfront investment that will pay off significantly from day one. It requires a law firm to:
- Identify the formats and sources of unstructured data they deal with each day
- Capture that data and ensure all of it is available in a digital format
- Integrate the digitized data so that it is easily accessible in one centralized location
Transform Your Legal Data Management with IDP
Ampliforce is a global leader in automation with decades of experience. Our team of automation experts is uniquely qualified to help you identify your data needs and develop an IDP solution that is tailored to your law practice.
Book a discovery call with one of our team members today and learn how IDP can save you time and money.