A New Year Unfolds With Artificial Intelligence: Five Legal Tech Predictions for 2023

These legal tech predictions shine the light on ways AI-backed solutions will change the way legal services are delivered.

As the year comes to a close, the world looks quite different than it did in January. Constant uncertainty has become the new normal. Political turbulence, pandemic-era disruptions and rising inflation have pushed and pulled the legal sector in unforeseen ways. Fortunately, an ever-expanding array of technology solutions have already emerged to help attorneys navigate these new terrains.

Five Legal Tech Predictions

Since the quality and the quantity of these solutions continue to proliferate at a dizzying pace (take OpenAI’s ChatGPT with more than 2 million users since its debut in late November), we’ve mapped out a few of the most important innovations to expect in the legal tech sector in the coming year. 

Prediction 1: API-Backed Case Management Systems

APIs are everywhere. You use them every single day without even knowing it. But what is an API? An API, or an application programming interface, is a machine-readable webpage for robots. It allows software developers to programmatically interact with software resources outside their own codebase. Legal analytics platforms using artificial intelligence, including Trellis and Lex Machina, already make portions of their database accessible to clients through APIs. As the coming year unfolds, more and more law firms will capitalize on these offerings. Why? With API access, law firms can merge data sources, integrating their case management, customer relationship and business development data with a legal analytics platform’s litigation data. Law firms can also delegate to the API their own information-gathering workflows, programming a computer to automatically retrieve specific types of information from the interface on a regular basis.

Prediction 2: Forecast Modeling in Legal Research

For years, many litigators have used legal analytics platforms to conduct the research required for their day-to-day practice. By using artificial intelligence to synthesize millions of unique data points, these platforms have uncovered a multitude of patterns nestled inside state trial court records. However, the technology of legal analytics remains better at describing reality than predicting it. Over the next year, legal analytics platforms will continue to shift their analytics offerings toward the predictive phase, building the technical foundations to enable forecast modeling of the likelihood of different case outcomes. While legal analytics may never be able to guarantee, with perfect accuracy, the outcome of a particular case, it may be able to identify the range of possibilities for its future.

Prediction 3: Fusion of Extra-Court Databases and Artificial Intelligence

Outcome prediction is a key part of practicing law. By looking through similar cases from the past, clients and their attorneys can strategize how they would like to navigate through a specific legal matter, as the details of other cases can provide invaluable insight into how their case is likely to unfold. We know, for example, that most civil cases filed in the United States never reach a jury. Most settle at the onset of litigation, while others settle days — maybe even hours — before a trial begins. The problem, however, is that verdict and settlement data remains inaccessible to the public, as most of it is neither collected nor published by the courts. In 2023, we will see legal analytics platforms expand the integration of verdict and settlement data into their services, information that will allow attorneys to map the trajectories of different settlement strategies.

Prediction 4: Automation of Daily Workflows

Legal analytics platforms can do much more than search. They can also build. We are already seeing this throughout the border states, where immigration attorneys are using automation and natural language processing to make immigration services more accessible and affordable. These products rely on immigration law data, complex conditional logic and artificial intelligence to help people prepare the documents they need for an immigration filing. By training an AI system to spot the right kinds of patterns, these products can extract information from documents, and draft responses to the types of government requests attorneys frequently handle for corporate clients. In 2023, we can expect this technology to expand into other practice areas.

Prediction 5: Responsible Artificial Intelligence

Michael Smith, a patent infringement litigator with Siebman, Forrest, Burg & Smith, warns that legal analytics can never tell you the whole story. Judicial analytics, for example, “may tell you more about the types of cases [in the dataset] than it does the judge’s predispositions.” As more and more law firms incorporate legal analytics technologies into their practice, more and more questions will inevitably arise regarding its responsible use. It’s easy to forget just how misleading data viewed in isolation can be. As such, attorneys must have some familiarity with the statistical and technological logics operating inside their computers.

Over the next year, we will see attorneys probing beneath the surface of legal analytics, asking legal technology platforms about the underlying data backing their statistics. We will also see attorneys having to educate their clients on statistical concepts, unpacking the underlying biases sparked by unidentified variables and misleading correlations.

It’s impossible to say for certain what the new year will bring. Still, AI-backed legal analytics is poised to continue seeping into the nooks and crannies of every single facet of the law, reframing the architecture of the contemporary law firm. No longer will the front office be siloed from the back office, with one focused on serving clients while the other manages business operations. Greater refinement in legal analytics techniques, the expansion of access to extra-court records, the automation of daily workflows, and the proliferation of API systems will realign the departments within a law firm, ensuring that every facet of the organization navigates through its uncertainties in tandem with the client and each other.

To learn more about Trellis, visit http://www.trellis.law