How Can Machine Learning and AI Optimize the Legal Department?


In the never-ending pursuit of greater productivity and efficiency, legal departments are being asked to handle increasing responsibilities without commensurate increases in budget or resources. A greater emphasis on shortening turnaround times also threatens the integrity of legal review. As “doing more with less” becomes a default expectation, legal departments that cannot find ways to adapt to these changes will quickly find themselves overwhelmed, and their most experienced and knowledgeable employees will struggle not to become bogged down and burnt out by tedious but essential tasks.

Driven by recent advancements in machine learning, there are deployable solutions that can scale to any organization’s increasing legal workload. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can improve legal departments’ productivity, efficiency, and speed while maintaining high standards of quality and integrity in three critical areas: workflow management, automation of routine tasks, and information storage and retrieval.

The most adopted use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in legal review is in workflow management. Managing workflows for hundreds or thousands of projects can seem overwhelming to human operators. But each individual project is a system of simple, repeatable, and time-consuming tasks, which is precisely what technology excels at processing.

By outsourcing the management of the workflow to an intelligent, automated system, supervisors can monitor the status of every task at a glance and clearly understand what needs to be done in order to move the process forward. The result is a significant decrease in review times, as well as improved accountability at every step of the process.

Automating routine tasks has benefits beyond expediting legal review and improving accountability. Legal departments that fail to keep up with technology rely on manual processes that are labor-intensive and inefficient. But by incorporating machine learning and AI into the legal workflow, it frees knowledgeable, experienced staff from mundane tasks, like document assembly or invoice processing. Instead of being bogged down in the routine minutiae of legal review, they can focus more on higher-value strategic activities.

There might be some reluctance to outsource these tasks to an automated process, however advanced. But properly configured machine learning never operates completely independently of human oversight. The AI-powered service will require human review at multiple steps of the process and flag anomalies for additional visibility. As the automated service receives input from experienced professionals, it incorporates those learnings into the process (hence “machine learning”) and becomes faster and more efficient over time. But it never replaces actual human oversight; it just becomes a more reliable tool.

Finally, machine learning and artificial intelligence can be a tremendous advantage when it comes to information storage and retrieval. As legal workloads have increased over the years, more tasks have been outsourced to outside partners. This often results in fragmented data storage challenges, where vital information is housed in different silos within the organization — or even outside of the organization itself.

An AI-powered solution can provide a single point of access to records spread across multiple locations, without requiring redundant storage or increasing access time. The benefits of faster access to a more complete set of records are obvious, from faster document assembly to more comprehensive visibility into historical data.

The struggle to keep up with increasing demands is not unique to your legal department, and Mainspring is ready to help. To learn more about how Mainspring can improve the efficiency and integrity of your legal department.