Does Josef use AI?

When we get asked this question, we usually pause and try to understand what’s behind it. While we love talking tech and going on tangents, the asker usually wants to know something more, or something else. 

How smart is our platform? How intuitive is it? How do we manage data? What do we think about automation? Can robots replace lawyers? Will robots replace lawyers? Should robots replace lawyers?

We often find it’s helpful to take a quick step back before we jump into these answers, so we thought we’d cover off a quick guide to AI in legal services.

What AI is and what it isn't

AI, or artificial intelligence, is a field of computer science where computers can simulate or imitate human intelligence. 

There are 3 broad categories for AI:

  1. Narrow AI, also known as weak AI or ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence), where machines can be programmed to do things. A spam filter or a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa are both examples of narrow AI.
  2. General AI, also known as strong AI or AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), where machines can understand, learn and figure out how human reasoning works.
    An example is Google’s AlphaGo, which learned from data on how people play the board game Go, and was able to apply its newly acquired intelligence to make decisions on how to play.
  3. Artificial superintelligence, where the machines can experience sentience, consciousness and self-awareness. As far as we can tell, this doesn’t exist in 2021. 

Machines already do a lot of things that people do, like seeing, hearing, speaking, understanding, and making decisions. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re using AI technologies. We have phones that unlock when they recognise our faces, and translation apps that translate languages we don’t speak.

Voice assistants and other narrow AI technology are becoming ubiquitous in workplaces and our (smart) homes

Voice assistants and other narrow AI technology are becoming ubiquitous in workplaces and our (smart) homes

AI is poorly understood and can feel like a fuzzy concept. One reason is because of the multiple depictions of artificial superintelligence in Hollywood and science fiction. The hype surrounding AI technologies and companies hasn’t helped, where some companies have been criticised for misrepresenting reality in their attempt to ‘sell’ their product or its potential.

This is also the result of the ‘AI effect’, a paradox where our norms and expectations adapt every time a computer does something well and we turn around and say ‘that’s not real artificial intelligence, that’s just computers’. Some examples of AI like spellcheck are so common that we don’t consider them as AI anymore.

What are the AI technologies used in the legal profession?

The type of AI used in the world of legal services and legal tech – and in Josef – is predominantly narrow AI.  

6 use cases for AI in legal services

  • Litigation review

    uses technology to scan legal documents and make information in those documents easier to find and understand. Litigation review is often referenced as eDiscovery.

  • Expertise automation

    uses technology to help consumers access legal services and advice. Legal advice bots are an example of expertise automation.

  • Legal research

    uses technology to scan and research large centralised databases for specific information on laws and regulations.

  • Document automation

    uses different tools and software to to help lawyers and consumers prepare legal documents (for example, contracts, agreements and claims).

  • Information management

    uses technologies to manage customer and case information, as well as operational functions such as billing and scheduling for a legal office, firm or practitioner. Information management tools and software are often referred to as practice management, matter management and client management.

  • Predictive analytics

    uses technology to analyse litigation, identify relevant precedents and make judgements or predictions.

Is Josef an example of AI?

Yes, Josef is an example of AI technology. Our platform automates legal functions – including expertise and document automation – using rules-based systems, which are a form of narrow AI.

Our builders set the rules, and decide what the bots do and say. All the bots on Josef work because legal professionals and other smart people design and create them to be the way they are.

One of our customers told us that our new flowchart was so intuitive that it was “almost like it knew what I was going to do next”. We assure you that’s not AGI, that’s good, intuitive legal design with a little bit of technological magic sprinkled on top.

And while narrow AI automation tech may not be as glamorous as self-driving cars or chess-playing computers, our philosophy on technology is to use it to empower people.

After all, we’re not trying to land on the moon, we’re trying to help solve the many legal problems we have today, here and now. 

Still got a question about legal tech and AI?

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Read more about legal automation

Why are legal services so ripe for disruption by GenAI? Professor Dan Hunter explains

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Why L’Oréal’s Legal Counsel Candy Welsh is “steadfast” in simplifying contracts & compliance

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GenAI is “fundamentally changing” the legal industry, says Zach Posner

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