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The Importance of Accuracy in Legal AI Technology

  • Written by Adam Ryan. Vice President, Product at Litera

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become more than just a buzzword. This year we have seen real action, and in turn, impact. In fact, 68% of Australian businesses have already implemented AI technologies and a further 23% are planning to implement them in the next 12 months. In the ever-evolving legal landscape, the adoption of technology, particularly AI-powered technology, has become a necessity for law firms seeking to gain a competitive edge. However, one aspect that may be overlooked with the “hype wave” in full swing, is the critical role of accuracy when it comes to AI legal tools.

In the legal space, the consequences of missing crucial information can be profound. While AI offers remarkable capabilities, it’s not the same as a human lawyer. The black box approach, where the AI generates answers without transparently revealing the reasoning behind them, isn’t conducive to building trust, and relying solely on an opaque AI can lead to errors and put a law firm's reputation on the line. The lawyer in combination with AI is better than the lawyer or AI alone.

One of the biggest challenges with accuracy in AI is the possibility of "hallucinations," where the AI confidently provides answers even if they are incorrect. This can lead to misguided decision-making and potential legal ramifications. When building AI solutions, vendors must ensure traceability and have well-defined guardrails to allow for verifiability, avoid hallucinations, and ensure accurate outcomes. For law firms, this means knowing what to look for when measuring accuracy and choosing an AI solution. Some AI solutions, like Litera’s, do not hallucinate as they only build off of existing documents within the firm, providing a layer of security and accuracy. 

Precision and Recall: A Balancing Act

Accuracy in AI can be measured through precision and recall. Precision refers to the ability of an AI tool to provide relevant and accurate results while minimising false positives. In other words, it measures how well the AI selects the correct information without including irrelevant data. For law firms, precision ensures that AI-generated responses are reliable and aligned with the specific requirements of the legal tasks, reducing the risk of making incorrect decisions based on misleading information. If precision is too low, it can lead to lawyers wasting significant time sifting through false positives to identify accurate results.

On the other hand, recall measures the comprehensiveness of an AI system in capturing all relevant information. It ensures the AI doesn’t miss any essential data and retrieves all relevant pieces of information required for a particular task. Recall is vital for due diligence, contract review, and other tasks where comprehensive information gathering is essential to avoid critical omissions or oversights.

High precision means the AI generates precise and relevant answers, minimising the need for manual verification. High recall ensures the AI doesn’t overlook essential information, providing a comprehensive overview of the legal matter at hand. Striking the right balance between precision and recall is essential for law firms to leverage AI effectively, streamline legal processes, reduce manual labour, and make well-informed decisions promptly — all with the confidence that everything is accurate.

Choosing an Accurate and Reliable AI Tool

Accurate AI tools not only enhance productivity and efficiency but also enhance the overall quality of legal services, leading to improved client satisfaction and maintaining a competitive edge in the legal industry. When searching for an adequate AI tool, law firms should look for the following features:

Puts User Problems First: The effectiveness of AI is tied to the workflows it empowers. AI technology should serve as a solution to the challenges that lawyers grapple with, addressing their specific needs and concerns.

Using the Right AI for the Right Purpose: The realm of AI offers various approaches, each with strengths and weaknesses. Success lies in aligning the appropriate AI approach with the specific task at hand. The decision should not be about haphazardly deploying an LLM for every situation, but rather understanding the context and selecting the right AI technology. A dependable AI-powered product will not leave users to determine its suitability; it will utilise the best AI type(s) suited to its intended use cases, vet responses, and ensure their accuracy.

Verifiability: The synergy between human expertise and AI is more powerful together than alone. To harness this potential, AI should serve as a trusted assistant, suggesting insights and allowing lawyers to provide the final say. Verifiability ensures that the legal outcome is rooted in human judgment, while AI contributes valuable suggestions.

Focus on Law, Not Tech: The essence of legal AI lies in enhancing the user experience for lawyers. Legal professionals should not be burdened with the intricacies of prompt engineering. Recognising that accuracy heavily relies on the prompts given, the challenge is to overcome this dependency and make AI more accessible for legal practitioners.

Accuracy: While agility is important, quality cannot be compromised. Moving swiftly should not come at the expense of accuracy. Rigorous testing and in-depth analysis of AI are essential to maintain the highest level of accuracy and reliability.

AI offers immense potential to revolutionise the legal industry. However, to harness AI's power effectively, law firms must navigate its pitfalls, including the possibility of hallucinations and false information. Overall, it's not about blindly trusting AI, but rather about empowering human intelligence with AI capabilities. Accuracy, transparency, and the right vendor selection are paramount for AI’s success, enabling firms to leverage AI for increasing efficiency, reducing risks, and sustaining success.

About Adam Ryan

Adam Ryan guides the strategic direction of Litera’s product portfolio, owning the execution of the strategy, driving the product vision, and prioritizing the product roadmaps. Before joining Litera, Adam worked as a lawyer for over 15 years, most recently at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Adam Ryan. Vice President, Product at Litera

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