Law and Order: NLP Edition

Ananya Avasthi
October 8, 2021

The law can also be known as the 'art of language, and therefore, one would require software that can decipher 'natural language.' One may be surprised to learn that software dealing with natural language has been used for legal processing since the 1960s.  Legal expert systems were trending in the 1970s and 1980s. In the last few years, one can again see the popularity of applying deep learning techniques in the context of specific legal applications.

For these kinds of software, the context of the document must be understood in its entirety as it would have legal repercussions for the same: This is where Natural Language Processing (NLP) comes into play. NLP assists the software in understanding natural language. Natural language or human language is simply the way humans interact with each other. There are several ways NLP achieves this task. 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 few areas of legal activity where NLP is playing an active role: 

-Legal research: To find information related to a legal decision.

-Electronic discovery: To determine the connection of documents to an information request.

-Contract review: to check whether all the risk has been accessed.

Legal Research

Legal research means finding information that would support the case that is being worked upon. 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.

The neatly organized bookshelves of thick bound volumes one notices: the lining of walls of a lawyers' offices look aesthetically pleasing in courtroom dramas and talking-head interviews. However, this magnificent volume of books is called dusty tomes since complete information has been digitalized and is easier to comb through. 

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. Confronting the bill and time squandered on tasks somewhat more (or 'responsive,' in the phrasing of the space) and so forth. For instance, two 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 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.

Mechanized agreement survey framework (sets out the operational terms of the contract such as the amount being borrowed, repayment schedule, and interest) can be utilized to audit reports that are somewhat normalized and unsurprising as far as the sort of content they contain. The interaction includes breaking down the agreement into its special arrangements or provisions and afterward evaluating each of these, either to remove critical data or to look at against some norm (which may very well be the arrangement of different examples of such agreements held by a firm). In this way, for instance, an agreement audit framework may demonstrate the shortfall of a provision covering payoff or show that a statement covering overhead costs neglects to indicate a rate limit.

In Conclusion...

There is a lot of controversy about how the industry can use NLP to take over many jobs, but the benefits overshadow the cons of using NLP. 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. The implication is that NLP opens up space for employees to work more efficiently and have an assistant on deck.