For lawyers and law firms seeking new ways to introduce innovation into their law practice, we’re happy to share the newest article published by UniCourt CEO, Josh Blandi, in Law Practice Today, a digital publication of the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division. Josh’s article, Law Firm Innovation and Automation with APIs, discusses how law firms can and should embrace AI and automation, rather than run away from it in fear that technology will replace them or make them obsolete. Josh also details in his article how law firms can use application programming interfaces (APIs) to power innovation and automate certain processes to save time, reduce human error, and greatly increase productivity.
Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of Josh’s article:
Fears that artificial intelligence (AI) will replace lawyers entirely is greatly misplaced, as technology is unlikely to fully supplant human ingenuity in the legal profession any time soon, if ever. Still, technology-driven changes are already surfacing in law firms. AI has begun replacing law firm staff in traditional research and data entry positions. While at first glance this looks like nothing more than a decline in manpower, it actually carries great benefits for the traditional law firm model in terms of productivity and data analytics.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are data pipelines that can be used by law firms to automate data entry and basic processes. Combined with AI that normalizes and cleans up data, APIs and AI together can quickly replace once critical and costly functions needed to support the foundation of the law firm hierarchy. Automated access to data also has other benefits—and not frightening ones like reducing the need for skilled lawyers. In fact, automated access to data can streamline law firm operations, increase innovation, and enhance business development efforts.
Reducing Overhead and Human Error
Automating data entry and law firm processes through APIs has numerous benefits, but two, in particular, are pertinent to the traditional law firm model: reduced overhead and enhanced productivity. In other words, by automating traditionally burdensome tasks, lawyers not only save time, money, and costly manpower but can also ensure the data they are collecting is more accurate, organized and readily usable.
Streamlining Litigation Management
Consider the time, money, and effort spent gathering and reviewing the documentation from a particularly high-profile case. At the least, the process would entail employing an army of paralegals or legal assistants to comb government databases and websites to locate key filings, download them, categorize them, and compile updates to send to the lawyers assigned to the case. The lawyers would then likely perform some duplicative work, shuffling through the filings to categorize and digest them.
By finding ways to funnel court data like dockets entries and filings through a matter and document management system, firms can streamline processes that traditionally required substantial amounts of human labor. For instance, plugging into an API to automatically download docket entries and documents filed on a particular case means the firm no longer needs to hire assistants or data entry specialists to manually locate and organize that information. This system can also keep lawyers constantly informed of what’s happening on their cases through automatic alerts about new filings or case updates.
The effect of automating case updates and data collection will have a far-reaching impact on traditional law practices, particularly within BigLaw. Attorneys who work at the top of a structured hierarchy of staff can break from this traditional model to bolster their profitability or launch their own practices while hiring less support staff to help process data. Even lawyers within small law firms and solo practices can find ways to cut back on costly overhead through AI and APIs.
You can read the full article here on the Law Practice Today website.