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Reviewing documents the AI way

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Litigation is a big focus for legal technology companies and start-ups. More and more companies are now developing applications that are capable of analysing litigation matters using AI. There have been great strides in two areas in particular: document review and contract review.

The review of documents at the disclosure stage of litigation can be very expensive for all parties concerned, and for lower value claims settlement usually occurs prior to disclosure to avoid these costs. In the past before documents could be reviewed electronically, it would take paralegals days or even weeks to go through paper files to ascertain relevance and privilege. This is massively expensive for the client if done on hourly rates.

Nowadays, litigation matters with thousands of documents are now routinely reviewed using online platforms such as Recommind or Relativity. Lawyers involve these platforms early on in the disclosure process and provide them with documents acquired from document management systems, computers, phones or other mediums. Those documents are then batched up so that they can be reviewed electronically using an online portal.

Paralegals and/or trainees can then undertake a first level review of all documents, while solicitors undertake the second level review of documents flagged during the first level review. The first level review sifts out all the documents that aren’t relevant, as well as flagging those documents that are privileged and therefore not able to be disclosed. The review of documents using an online platform has obvious benefits in terms of time and ease, but it also means that reviewing can be done anywhere provided there is an internet connection. This allows firms to outsource the reviewing of documents to make the work cheaper and to avoid the need to source temporary personnel.

Some platform providers are now using ‘predictive coding’ as a way of making the process even more efficient. The platform provider will use AI to establish which types of document are relevant based on how a user tags a sample of documents. The aim here is to reduce the time taken to review documents when you have thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of documents.

For transactional areas, AI is also having an impact in the review of contracts. Companies such as Luminance are having a big impact across the world providing firms with the ability to quickly and efficiently review contracts. AI allows multiple contracts to be reviewed and the differences noted, saving many man hours in the process that would have been spent manually comparing contracts.

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