By Kevin O'Keefe

AI applied to secondary law to follow AI’s current use in primary law

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Machines today are presenting lawyers with law they should see without the lawyers even searching or looking for the law.

When I practiced, when I wanted the see the law I needed to search for it, and not via a computer but in books, lots of them. The closest I came to machines and AI was an annotation to a code section or a case which told me there was an American Law Review article on point.

Today legal tech and legal research companies deploying AI (machine learning) are white hot and so is investment in them ($200 million invested in legal tech in the last couple months, mostly in AI).

My friend and colleague, Bob Ambrogi, wrote this week about the World Economic Forum recognizing 61 early-stage companies as tecnology pioneers for their design, development and deployment of potentially world-changing innovations and technologies.

Only one was a legal tech company, Casetext, which has been a key player in pioneering the use of artificial intelligence to enhance legal research.

From Economic Forum on Casetext:

Casetext provides free, unlimited access to the law and charges for access to premium technologies that attorneys can use to make their research more thorough and more efficient. It is the novel application of artificial intelligence (AI) to the law that allows attorneys to use the context of what they are working on to jumpstart their research.

I may be off a touch, but Casetext technology enables lawyers to share with a machine what they are working on, ie a brief of their’s or the other side’s and AI will indentify for the lawyer cases they should look at.

Imagine casting that across everything a lawyer is working on. Transactional documents, pleadings, memorandums, correspondence, you name it.

You key or talk somnething in and AI tells you, without a search, that you should look at this or that. Better knowleldge and at a small fraction of the cost of lawyers searching. Pretty neat.

Neat enough that the Economic Forum recognized AI in the law in the same context with previous companies recognized, the likes oif which included Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter and Wikimedia.

But there’s a gap in the law which AI is presenting lawyers. Secondary law. The insight and commentary of lawyers with expertise in niche areas of the law.

Secondary law should not be discounted. It’s regularly cited for persuasion at the trial and appellate court level. Secondary law is used by lawyers to guide them in transactional and litigation matters.

And secondary law is better than it’s ever been. Historically the province of legal academia, much commentary came from lawyers who never practiced. With the democratization of publishing with blogs and the Internet, the number of niches and the amount of content is greater than ever.

Beyond just reading the secondary insight, you’ll be able to reach out to the lawyer immediately, subscribe to their RSS feeds in your reader or engage them via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The key will be aggregating blogs – nation and world-wide – and deploying the curated insight via AI. This way lawyers will discover information and sources they never knew they were looking for.

Aggregation is beginning, the AI part is probably coming faster than we think.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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