Adopting Artificial Intelligence to Law practice in Nigeria


Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon valley’s next victim. But recent research and even the people working on the software say to automate legal work and the adoption of AI in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process. In other words, like it or not, a robot is not, about to replace lawyers in Nigeria. At least, not anytime soon.





Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way since John McCarthy, thefather of AI, coined the term back in 1955. For lawyers, this cutting-edge and rapidly changing field of science can be intimidating and downright befuddling. In general terms, Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science where machines mimic human intelligence.




Advances in technology blend into the existing framework of most professions and law is no exception. Some aspect of law practice will change, such as the legal research tools lawyers use, while others would not change as much, as the legal system in general. However, There is little dispute that Artificial Intelligence solutions for the practice of  law can enable firms in Nigeria to perform at a higher level in terms of productivity and efficiency.




Almost certainly AI will make a more significant impact regarding judiciary recommendation based on vast amounts of data from complex  state and federal regulations and legal decision in Nigeria.






As with any new technology, questions arise regarding best practice use cases. Will the people lose job to machines? Will they affect our behavior and interaction with one another? Will they make critical mistake and if they do, how do we learn to guard against them?





Today, we speak about machines as if they are sentient “beings” like T-1000 from “Terminator 2”. But instead of replacing humans, artificial intelligence is meant to reinforce and enhance what humans do. For example, AI is transforming the legal profession in many ways, freeing lawyers and legal staff to concentrate on higher-level tasks such as negotiating deals, appearing in court and advising clients. Legal research and document review can be performed using AI tools, eliminating the mundanes and often monotonous tasks of searching through and analyzing multiple documents and contracts, work that paralegals, legal researchers and litigators dread and clients no longer wish to pay for.




Also, while the ever-increasing need for speed in response to clients and the courts puts enormous strain on lawyers, AI can analyze information more thoroughly, in less time as with fewer mistakes, reducing lawyer’s stress and burnout. AI-powered software can efficiently and quickly;




A). Produce statistically validated results with more accuracy and speed
than their human counterpart.

B). Research and evaluate holdings of prior cases and review documents for discoverable information referred to as Technology Assisted Review (TAR).

C). Identify risks and issues that may take skilled attorney days to find.

D). With access to years of trial data, AI can make much more accurate predictions about outcomes of legal proceedings.

E). Confirms facts and figures and analyze document for missing information, errors and inconsistent language.

F). Sort through contracts quicker and with fewer errors than humans. AI systems, like those offered by ROSS Intelligence, leverage natural language processing (NLP) to help analyze documents. This Technology allows AI systems to take everyday language and spoken or written words and turn them into concepts and entities and structures data. The advantages in terms of potential time and cost savings are enormous.




AI technology is only a small part of the overall solutions for law firms in Nigeria. Successfully integration also include a foundation of structured and relevant data, defined processes and procedures, a willingness to interact and understand the AI system, a flexible internal
culture open to change and growth and the necessary skills and technical knowledge to support AI system and their users.





Moreover, while AI may offer lawyers leading data-driven tools to provide efficient and impactful legal counsel to clients generate forecast of litigation outcomes, determine trends and patterns from past case and more, AI is still not a substitute for a lawyer’s own instinct, judgement and personal rapport with clients. For instance, computers cannot perform tasks that require emotional intelligence and they cannot counsel in a court room.





It is also pertinent to reiterate that AI enhances, rather than replacing the work done by lawyers and AI and legal technology will not automate lawyers out of existence anytime soon. AI’s ability to perform discrete tasks does not extend to the far-ranging skill sets that attorneys bring to their practice. The real value of law firms, lawyers and staff is in combining the efficiency of AI applications with the expertise, emotional intelligence and creativity of lawyers.





For Nigeria Law firms that embrace AI, legal work will become more methodical and efficient. It is up to each firms to shepherd in new AI technology to realize the greatest benefits. Those that commit to reduce manual-and-labour intensive tasks, higher customer retention, reduced costs and more accurate decisions and work output will no doubt rise above law practice that choose to remain in the status quo, as AI systems make it easier for law firms to gain a strategic advantage in the industry.






MUSA OMMA-AGBON ZAIKI is a law student of the faculty of law, University of Calabar


For knowledge and Justice
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