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Courting AI

Be it the ability to draft contracts, and petitions or simply do research of case laws, AI seems to be marching its way into the enormous and expansive world of Law. The notorious complexities of legal language or jargon or drafting tons of large volumes of contracts could be shunned away by AI, but what would this mean in terms of privacy of client data and confidentiality? Despite India’s progress in setting up virtual courtrooms since the pandemic, many from the legal fraternity are concerned in terms of reliability with this new giant in the legal landscape.

Al At Work

Advocate Roshni Lachhwani, Founding Attorney, Intellexsys Legal Solutions says that AI tools are licensed to multiple users for maximum monetisation. “This certainly may involve access and thereby allow the processing of sensitive data inputs by developers,” she says. Advocate Roshni stresses how even if privacy regulations were strictly followed, it would yet remain a matter of concern.

“It is imperative to implement robust security measures to help protect client information.” Speaking of how many legal firms seem to be incorporating AI into their daily functioning, Advocate Roshni says, “It is an undeniable fact that the integration of AI in legal firms is highly beneficial. AI can handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing legal professionals to focus on more complex aspects of their work.”

AI will help increase efficiency and improve the quality of service provided to clients. “However, it is crucial to ensure that AI systems are used responsibly and ethically to avoid potential pitfalls,” she warns. Her law firm has been using AI as an administrative assistant for tasks like — gathering background information for proposals, searching reports, generating detailed emails from lawyer-drafted legal opinions, and simplifying the language for easier understanding of clients.

Many professionals have praised its efficiency as well as raised valid concerns. Jayant Saran, Partner at Deloitte, India says, “Smart use of AI can help law firms achieve greater efficiencies resulting in savings for clients, improving turnaround times both for legal opinion and disposal of matters.”

Talking about the possible disadvantages, Jayant points out how AI tends to learn solely from the information that is made available to it, along with the tuning that happens as one continues to use it. “While it can correlate areas that may be potentially missed by humans, it can have far-reaching implications if it learns from incorrect data sets.”

A Gamechanger

To help get tedious work done faster yet efficiently, several law firms have jumped onto the AI bandwagon. Namita Viswanath, partner at INDUSLAW says that in today’s world, most legal professionals believe in ‘smart work.’ “It is the need of the hour to start using AI to help with such work.” Namita believes one of the major ethical issues here has been the generation of biased content by GenAI models. While AI might be a gamechanger, could it truly replace legal professionals? Saran says, “AI will not be able to replace professionals completely. There is an element of pleadings and arguments that successful lawyers use that AI may not be able to address as of today.”

Lawyers vs AI

Shedding light on the AI buzz, Advocate Gaurav Kaushal, Founder & Lead Counsel at Fides Juris, Delhi says that it is true that AI can help lawyers in drafting petitions, agreements and finding relevant judgement and case laws suitable for cases, but he has not come across colleagues who have started incorporating AI into work yet. He speaks of how this could have a lopsided outcome, especially for interns and young budding lawyers who would depend heavily on AI. He opines that heavy reliance on AI would cause young lawyers to drift away from the practice of reading complete judgements as they would now have everything served to them in a ‘readymade fashion’. He says that the use of AI in legal decision-making should be avoided. He adds, “AI can’t totally replace manual functioning as Law is closely related to society and people at large.”

Budding law students too, have come ahead to speak their minds on AI in the legal sphere. Raghvendra, a SY law student from KC Law College, Mumbai says, “AI has the potential to revolutionize the legal sphere by introducing innovative approaches and capabilities.” Supriya Gupta, another law student says, “AI cannot completely replace humans in the field of law. The ability to interpret law to keep in line with people’s psychology and needs can only be understood by humans as compared to an AI bot.”

Courtroom Robots

The full integration of AI into the legal sphere would be a matter of time. There are a few legal tech startups that have proven beneficial to the legal fraternity at large. VakilAI, a startup with a merger of law + tech seems to be among the few to provide a comprehensive suite of AI-powered legal tools. Panna Lal Patodia, Founder & CEO, Patodia Infotech Pvt. Ltd and CEO of VakilAI says, “The adoption of AI in legal practice is on the rise as it offers substantial improvements in efficiency and accuracy.” Lawyers using tech like VakilAI benefit immensely from reduced research time, easy drafting of legal documents, smooth sifting of SC and HC judgements, and enhanced document accuracy. However, Panna Lal adds that AI can perpetuate existing biases in legal data. “Over-reliance on AI might reduce critical thinking skills among lawyers,” he says. It may be true that AI as a software fails to have an element of consciousness of its own. Its integration into the field of law not only could help reduce significant dependency but also fasten the process of drafting and documentation.

However, external regulation by the legislature in terms of rules and regulations as well as constitutional norms by the judiciary would be the need of the hour!

AI cannot replace manual functioning as the law is closely related to society and people at large” — Gaurav Kaushal, Advocate and Founder, Fides Juris, Delhi

It is crucial to ensure that AI systems are used responsibly and ethically to avoid potential pitfalls” — Roshni Lachhwani, Advocate, Founding Attorney-Intellexsys

There is an element of pleadings and arguments that successful lawyers use, that AI may not be able to address as of today” — Jayant Saran, Partner, Deloitte India

AI can perpetuate existing biases in legal data and over-reliance on AI might reduce critical thinking skills among lawyers” — Panna Lal Patodia, Founder & CEO of VakilAI

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