How Legal Professionals Are Currently Using AI Today

In law firms, AI has been particularly impactful by making document management and analysis processes more efficient.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), at its core, is about creating intelligent systems that perform and/or expedite tasks that are traditionally manual and time-intensive. In law firms, AI has been particularly impactful by making document management and analysis processes more efficient. 

Inside of CARET Legal, this looks like:

  1. AI-enabled OCR that turns any scannable document into searchable text, and 
  2. ‘Quick Summaries’ or instantly generated summaries of lengthy documents

Imagine being able to search through thousands of handwritten notes as easily as you Google something. Or picture getting the gist of a 100-page contract in just a few minutes. How much more productive could law firms be?

What OCR actually is 

AI-enabled Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a wordy phrase to describe a tool that can easily read written text within an image. 

For instance, with OCR you can:

  1. Instantly convert a handwritten client statement into searchable, editable text
  2. Transform scanned contracts with handwritten annotations into searchable documents
  3. Digitize old case files and legal documents stored in paper format and make searchable 
  4. Extract text from message screenshots or social media posts submitted as evidence
  5. Convert handwritten police reports or witness statements into typed documents
  6. Digitize and make searchable handwritten notes from meetings or court proceedings

Instead of manually typing out information from physical documents or struggling with unsearchable image files, OCR allows lawyers to quickly convert any text-containing image into usable, searchable data.

Imagine you’re working on a complex litigation case involving thousands of documents spanning several decades. Some are typed reports, others are handwritten notes, and still others are photographs of relevant signage or documentation. Without OCR, reviewing all these documents would be a Herculean task, requiring countless hours of manual reading and note-taking.

With AI-enabled OCR, however, you can digitize this entire document collection, making every word searchable. Need to find every mention of a specific date across all documents? A simple search will do. Want to locate every handwritten note that mentions a particular client? OCR makes it possible.

Additionally, OCR allows for more comprehensive analysis, reduces the risk of overlooking crucial information, and enables legal professionals to focus on high-level strategy rather than getting bogged down in manual document review.

Explaining ‘Quick Summaries’

Quick Summary is another AI feature that rapidly reads and distills the key points from lengthy documents, providing concise overviews in a fraction of the time it would take a human to read and summarize manually.

Firms can use the Quick Summary to:

  1. Condense contracts into a one-page overview highlighting key clauses and obligations
  2. Extract core arguments and precedents from lengthy court opinions
  3. Summarize expert witness reports to key findings and opinions
  4. Distill key points from regulatory documents or new legislation
  5. Summarize opposing counsel’s briefs to quickly identify their main arguments
  6. Create concise case summaries from lengthy case files for client presentations
Quick Summary feature in CARET Legal

Consider a scenario where you’re preparing for a complex corporate litigation case. You have thousands of pages of contracts, emails, financial reports, and witness statements to review. Without Quick Summary, you’d need to spend days, if not weeks, reading through all this material to grasp the key issues.

With Quick Summary, you can get a high-level overview of each document in minutes. This allows you to quickly identify the most relevant documents for closer review, understand the main points of contention, and start formulating your strategy much sooner.

But Quick Summary isn’t just about speed – it’s also about comprehensiveness and consistency. When you’re dealing with vast amounts of information, it’s easy for human reviewers to miss important details, especially when fatigue sets in. Quick Summary ensures that every document receives the same level of thorough analysis, regardless of when it’s processed.

Moreover, Quick Summary can help lawyers spot patterns and connections that might not be immediately obvious when reading documents individually. By providing concise summaries of multiple documents, it becomes easier to see how different pieces of evidence or arguments relate to each other.

It’s important to note that Quick Summary doesn’t replace the need for thorough legal analysis. Instead, it serves as a powerful tool to guide that analysis. It helps lawyers focus their attention where it’s most needed, ensuring that their expertise is applied to understanding and strategizing rather than just reading and note-taking.

As with OCR, the technology behind Quick Summary is continuously evolving. The latest versions can understand context, recognize legal jargon, and even adapt to specific areas of law. This means the summaries are becoming increasingly sophisticated and tailored to legal professionals’ needs.

These tools aren’t replacing lawyers; they’re enhancing human expertise by handling routine tasks, allowing legal professionals to focus on aspects requiring judgment, creativity, and emotional intelligence.

The Power of OCR and Quick Summary Combined

While OCR and Quick Summary are powerful tools in their own right, their true potential is realized when used in tandem. OCR makes documents searchable and accessible, while Quick Summary makes them quickly digestible. Together, they create a formidable system for managing and analyzing legal information.

Here are some example scenarios where the combination of these technologies shines:

  1. Legacy Case File Review: Imagine your firm takes on a case that’s been ongoing for years. You’re handed boxes of old case files – some typed, some handwritten. With OCR, you can quickly digitize all these documents, making them searchable. Then, Quick Summary can provide rapid overviews of each document, allowing you to quickly identify the most relevant files for your current strategy.
  2. Due Diligence in Mergers and Acquisitions: In a large M&A deal, you might need to review thousands of contracts from both companies. OCR can digitize all contracts, including those with handwritten notes or amendments. Quick Summary can then provide concise overviews of each contract, highlighting key clauses, obligations, and potential conflicts. This process, which could have taken weeks, can now be completed in days.
  3. E-Discovery: During e-discovery, you might receive a massive data dump from the opposing side. OCR can make all documents – including PDFs, scanned images, and even screenshots – searchable. Quick Summary can then provide overviews of each document, helping you quickly identify which ones are relevant to your case and which might contain crucial evidence.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: When new regulations are introduced, companies often need to review vast amounts of internal documentation to ensure compliance. OCR can digitize all relevant company documents, while Quick Summary can provide rapid overviews, helping legal teams quickly identify areas that might need attention.
  5. Legal Research: When researching a complex legal issue, you might need to review numerous case laws and academic articles. OCR can make older, scanned documents searchable, while Quick Summary can provide concise overviews of each document, helping you quickly identify the most relevant precedents and arguments for your case.

AI is the perfect law partner

Beyond OCR and Quick Summary, we’re seeing AI tools that can predict case outcomes, identify arguments, draft routine documents, and flag risks in contracts. However, these tools aren’t replacing lawyers; they’re enhancing human expertise by handling routine tasks, allowing legal professionals to focus on aspects requiring judgment, creativity, and emotional intelligence. 

The future belongs to firms and individuals who can effectively integrate AI into their practice, rethinking workflows and developing skills AI can’t replicate. As AI continues to evolve, it promises to make legal work not just more efficient, but more thorough and accessible. The future of law is a synergy of human expertise and AI capabilities, working together to create a more effective and just legal system for all.

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