Artificial Intelligence in the Legal Profession

India is the largest democracy in the world and has a population of more than 135 crores, the country is plagued with the problem of shortage of resources in almost every sector and the Indian Judiciary is not an exception. Just like our economy, our judiciary is also developing. Unlike developed countries, where trials usually only last for a few days or months at the worst, in India trials tend to span over a few years at the least. The Supreme Court alone has over 59,000 cases pending and the state of the lower courts is much worse, with the High Courts all over India collectively having over 44.75 lakh cases pending. The situation at the level of the District and Subordinate courts is graver in comparison, with an unprecedented total of 3.14 crore cases pending.[1]

 This clearly shows the machinery of the Judicial sector in India must be modified to ensure that its citizens get justice promptly, as justice delayed is justice denied. Incorporating AI technology into judicial machinery will be one way to deliver justice to its people effectively and efficiently.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence [AI] is a mechanical system that can perform the task which normally requires human intelligence. Artificial Intelligence gives the machines the ability as they have human intelligence. This technology learns from experience and uses it to solve a certain problem and thus, due to its ability to imitate what is perceived as intelligent behaviour it is defined as ‘intelligent’.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Modern Life?

The World has been witnessing countless changes with the advent of Artificial Intelligence. Various sectors which are intertwined with day-to-day activities of the society are gradually adopting the usage of AI. This results in numerous changes in the lifestyles of people in different dimensions of society.

One such example is the educational sector. Evolution of ‘Smart content’ and Digital classrooms, where textbooks are being digitalized, has opened doors for new learning methods.   Moreover, tests and assessments conducted using AI are quite innovative and enables higher-level thinking. AI also eases the administrative tasks of teachers as grading can be automated. This saves a lot of time and the teachers can spend more time interacting with the students.

AI in the medical field is proving to be very efficient and of great advantage in pharmaceutics and biotechnology as well. Use of AI has made diagnosis much simpler, easily accessible, as well as cheaper. Detecting lung cancers from CT scans, assessing cardiac health, classifying retinopathy are few such examples. Moreover, drug development which was extremely expensive and complex is now made more efficient with the help of AI. Decoding genomes and determining best medication therapies for individuals has been a milestone achieved by AI.

So far as the business sector is concerned, AI is drastically put to use. In the manufacture of goods, AI is used to increase precision. For example, Bharat Petroleum has begun to use AI while drilling for oil. This prevents human errors and advises operators on adjusting the depth and distance of drilling. Data storage is one of the biggest advantages of AI and businesses use AI to compare past sales information with the current sales and assess overall performance. Moreover, automated customer services and personalized product suggestions are also some innovative modifications.

Driverless cars in the automobile industry, Unmanned Weapon Systems in the warfare sector, social media advancements, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), Face recognition passwords, Smart home devices etc are some recent applications of Artificial Intelligence.

The above-stated examples illustrate the spreading influence of Artificial Intelligence in various sectors that affect the everyday lives of people. AI enables the advancement of these sectors and heads towards development. However, for national development, advancement cannot be restricted to a particular sphere. All aspects of the nation, including the legislature, executive and judiciary must welcome Artificial Intelligence to encourage innovations and promote national development.

Importance of AI In The Legal Domain of India

In the present-day scenario, Artificial Intelligence is being introduced in various industries. Smart professional assistants such as Siri, automated responders, and online customer support are some such examples.

So far as the legal profession is concerned, it has not seen many technological advancements and the main reason for this is because Indian lawyers are very comfortable with their traditional method of working. However, law in India is a dynamic concept, and therefore lawyers need to have a clear and coherent understanding of the day-to-day legal updates. The use of Artificial Intelligence provides access to these updates within seconds and exceptionally reduces the time required for research. Moreover, the judiciary needs to address more complex questions and controversial topics. Yet, discussing such complicated arguments, without the use of Artificial Intelligence, might take years to solve issues. Hence, the use of Artificial Intelligence is very essential to stimulate speedy trails.

Application of Artificial Intelligence in the legal field encourages lawyers to explore various spheres of society and address diverse problems. Finding solutions to these problems at a faster rate is the paramount need for social development. Therefore, lawyers must understand the importance and usage of Artificial Intelligence in their sphere of work.

AI technology’s role in a law firm

*Legal research and due diligence: An AI-powered software can read over a million pages of the law in second and helps the lawyer finds the exact words he was searching for. With the machine performing quick legal research, lawyers don’t need to charge for the time and hence will help the client save his money and also will eliminate the research costs. AI’s ability to confirm facts expedites the process of finding background information, which can accelerate arbitration and litigation proceedings makes it an important tool for lawyers in the discovery phase.

*Review documents and contracts: AI can review multiple documents and mark them relevant to a particular case. Once such a document is identified, AI algorithms can work simultaneously to find other similar documents. This reduces the workload of lawyers. AI can also help in solving problems faster and with fewer mistakes than humans failed to notice.

*Predict legal outcomes: AI can store years of legal data and examine through it all to provide the lawyers with exact chances of winning the relevant case. AI can provide lawyers with insights on cases and can also give accurate answers to the doubts raised by clients.

Hence AI can do multiple tasks at a time which help the lawyers to focus more on analysis, counselling, negotiations and court visits.

AI technology and the functioning of the judiciary

The advantages of Artificial Intelligence in the legal field are not just confined to lawyers and law firms. Usage of AI by the Judges can smoothly clear up several blockades obstructing the development of the judiciary. 

It is a well-known fact that justice delayed is justice denied. “Our justice system even in grave cases suffers from slow motion syndrome which is lethal to a fair trial.” These were the words of Justice Krishna Iyer in the case of Babu Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh[2]. The landmark judgment in the case of Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar[3] clearly state that the right to a speedy trial is a fundamental right included in Article 21. However, Artificial Intelligence is best recognized for its speed in research, storage and identification of huge data, review of documents, etc. It reduces the time taken by the judges to deliver the judgment for a particular case, thereby ensuring every citizen their right to the speedy trial.

Indian Judiciary gives a great level of importance to the earlier precedents. The doctrine of binding precedent promotes certainty and consistency in Judgments and encourages organic development of law[4]. Therefore, a clear and coherent understanding of judicial decisions of the courts is very important for the judges. Artificial Intelligence can cite all possible precedents related to the case within seconds and can also precisely quote the specific lines mentioned in the relevant judgments. This can extremely reduce the research time required for the judges.

Moreover, summarization and analysis of documents can be easily done by the usage of AI. A quick summary of the Judgment can be of immense help when the judge had to deliver interim decisions such as injunction orders (as in the case of civil disputes) and summoning of accused in a criminal case. Furthermore, summarization and analysis done by a machine would hold a great degree of precision containing all the important aspects. Apart from the delivery of the judgment, judges are also responsible for certain administrative matters such as sending and receiving official communications, directing the ministerial staff of the court, etc, which may involve repetitive tasks. Usage of AI in such matters would save up a lot of time for the judges and enables them to focus on core judicial activities. 

Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, while addressing The Constitutional Function, 2019, conducted by Supreme Court Bar Association, (SCBA) stated that “We propose to introduce, if possible, a system of artificial intelligence. There are many things which we need to look at before we introduce ourselves. We do not want to give the impression that this is ever going to substitute the judges.” A mobile application was launched which was able to translate the Supreme Court judgments in various languages. The CJI also stated that such innovations would help in improving the efficiency of the Indian Judicial System. 

Therefore, the introduction of AI in the legal profession has the potential to resolve the problem of the backlog of cases which is the biggest challenge faced by the Indian judiciary. While increasing the speed of justice delivery, AI also makes sure that it is done with accuracy and not haste. Hence, the usage of AI by Indian Judges is an essential step to be taken for the development of the Indian Judiciary.

Can Artificial Intelligence replace lawyers?

The abilities of Artificial Intelligence, though has been fascinating, it instilled a serious doubt among the lawyers that whether the introduction of Artificial Intelligence in the legal field would replace the lawyers and law firms.

It is a well-accepted fact that Artificial Intelligence, so far as the legal profession is concerned, offers great research, precision, and storage of large data. However, the work of a lawyer is much more than all these. Quick decision making, inquiry, analysis, and representation are an integral part of a lawyer’s job which cannot be automated but can be made accurate and credible with Artificial Intelligence.

Applying Artificial Intelligence in the legal field would not replace but transform the jobs of lawyers. Earlier, editing documents were manual and research was done by referring to the books. However, now the usage of technology has made these jobs easier. Therefore, further advancements by applying Artificial Intelligence would enable the lawyers to perform more efficiently.[5]

Incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in the legal profession will thus be an evolution and not a revolution. The lawyers and law firms who do not use the advantages of AI would be drastically left behind.[6] Since the new era demands newer skills, lawyers and law students need to have considerable technical knowledge as well. Artificial Intelligence in the legal field has the potential to create a large number of data analytics jobs and increase the demand for associates who are well aware of the usage of AI technologies.[7]

Moreover, it is an important duty of the lawyer to understand the client’s grief and emotional support. This can never be achieved by a machine. Therefore, Artificial Intelligence can be used as a great assisting tool which incredibly reduces the time and efforts of a lawyer but cannot replace the lawyer itself.


[1] https://main.sci.gov.in/statistics

[2] 1978 AIR 527

[3] 1979 AIR 1360 

[4] Union of India v. Raghubir Singh, AIR 1989 SC 1933

[5] Sobowale, Julie. “How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession.” ABA J (2016): 1-1.

[6] Marchant, Gary E. “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Legal Practice.” SciTech Lawyer 14.1 (2017): 20-23.

[7] Sean Semmler & Zeeve Rose, Artificial Intelligence: Application Today and Implications Tomorrow, 16 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 85 (2017-2018).

Prithviraj S from School of Law, Sastra Deemed to be University

“I am equally passionate about law and football, and I aspire to be as good as a lawyer as Cristiano Ronaldo is a footballer”

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