Law and Order: NLP Edition

Natural language processing (NLP) is adding "order" to the legal field. NLP has assisted the legal field in three distinct areas: contract review, electronic discovery, and general research. There is a massive demand for applying NLP in the legal system to help absorb a lot of information and streamline it. This allows humans to focus on more intricate tasks that AI cannot handle.
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Ananya Avasthi
March 24, 2022
Published on
March 24, 2022
October 8, 2021
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The law is sometimes known as the "art of language", so it is no surprise that it pairs so well with software that can decipher "natural language". Software dealing with natural language has been used for legal processing since the 1960s, with a growing trend in the 1970s and 1980s. In the last few years, the popularity of applying deep learning and NLP techniques in legal applications has grown like wildfire.

Legal firms deal with huge swathes of data and information day in, day out. This is where NLP software can be hugely effective. It can sift through the information quickly and in its entirety. Simply put, NLP assists the software in understanding natural language. It uses tools to understand the basic techniques of word definition, phrases, sentences, texts, and syntactic (knowledge of word meanings and vocabulary) and semantic processing (understanding the combination of phrases). It also develops applications such as machine translation (MT), question-answering (QA), data retrieval, discussion, document production, and recommendation program to name a few.  There are three key areas of legal activity where NLP is playing an active role: legal research, electronic discovery, and contract review.

Legal Research

Legal research means finding information that would support the case. Usually, this includes searching through both statute (as created by the legislature) and case law (as developed by the courts) to dig for information that is specific to the situation. In a world where stacks of books and dusty tomes have been replaced by digitalized information, NLP makes it infinitely easier to sift through information and find what you need quickly. Taking it one step further, NLP labeling can help you draw connections between legal terms and entities, and can help automate document labeling in a huge way.

Electronic Discovery

Electronic disclosure, or e-revelation, is the most common way of recognizing and gathering data that has effectively been put away in light of a solicitation for creation in a claim or examination. For instance, several years ago there was a discussion around a new patent question with Apple. Samsung got involved, gathered, and handled information regarding 3.6TB or 11,108,653 records; the expense of preparing that proof over 20 months was supposed to be more than 13 million dollars. 

Today, the market is focused on optimized techniques for labeling which documents are relevant as fast and efficiently as possible. This cycle is called 'technology-assisted review' ('TAR') and was, for different years, a focal point of action in the TREC Lawful Track. Likewise, conventional methodologies included catchphrase or Boolean inquiry with the legitimate examination, trailed by the manual survey. Current methods use AI for record characterization, alluded to as prescient coding in the legitimate calling.

Contract and Document Review

Attorneys typically audit contracts, offer remarks/changes, and advise their customers through negotiations. The agreements may be moderately basic—like non-divulgence —arrangements (NDAs) or highly complex, spanning thousands of pages. By applying NLP to legal documents, attorneys can accelerate contract review and negotiation while eliminating human bias, so reducing ambiguity, and being able to draw more enforceable contracts. NLP software like Datasaur can help lawyers to perform reviews and label documents in a fraction of the time that they would otherwise need to dedicate to the review.

There is a massive demand for applying NLP in the legal system to help absorb vast sums of information, streamline it, and categorize it. This allows humans to focus on more intricate tasks that AI cannot handle. The implication is that NLP opens up space for employees to work more efficiently and have an assistant on deck.

If you're interested in learning more about NLP use cases in the real world, or want to find out how NLP can help your firm, contact us. We'd love to talk!

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