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Legal analytics and next-generation technology are guiding the future of legal practice. Recently, Jeff Pfeifer, Vice President of Product Management at LexisNexis, sat down with Ari Kaplan to discuss theses advancements and how they empower the data-driven lawyer of today and tomorrow.
In this podcast, Jeff addresses machine learning and artificial intelligence; specifically, the challenges of integrating them with the law. He also discusses predicative analytics and the future of legal technology.
Read Jeff’s thoughts on the limitations of next-generation technology and the future of the industry in the interview excerpt below.*
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Ari Kaplan: Given its promise, what are the current limitations of machine learning and artificial intelligence?
Jeff Pfeifer: The biggest challenge is the incredible heavy lift to build that language interaction between human and computer. And in the law, that’s especially difficult because of the nuances in legal language and the fact that most machine learning systems are not at all trained for the legal domain. So most of the work that’s going on right now is investing heavily in helping computers understand the language and the complex domain of law. Some have likened that to computer systems going to law school and learning more about the language of law. In fact, that’s where we’re heavily emphasizing investment now, building out those systems that allow us to draw associate relationships. We’ve made good progress on that front, but it is a difficult task, and it requires both a significant amount of domain expertise, which we bring to the table, but at the same time, it requires access to the deep corpus of data that is clean and reliable, and that is obviously a strength for a company like LexisNexis.
Ari Kaplan: Given the evolution of analytics and relationship management that you’re discussing, technically, is it now really possible to predict trial outcomes based on data?
Jeff Pfeifer: As much as artificial intelligence analytics represents a very promising area for technology development, my sense is that analytics are offering real value to customers right now. So while you probably can’t yet predict the actual outcome of a case, you can get tremendous insight into things like judicial behavior and the likely outcome in a particular venue. And so LexisNexis has invested very heavily in analytics because we believe it gives our customers a distinct advantage on a matter. It helps them both make better decisions in the business of law and the practice of law. And frankly for us a business, we think this gives us a distinct advantage in the market. So factors for us that were driving our work in this space were the long-term benefits of analytics. And we see that the headline benefit is the ability to gain new insights from very large amounts of data that previously weren’t knowable. And that led to organic development for us in-house, but it also led to our acquisition about a year ago of a company called Lex Machina because they were doing very insightful work in mining docket data and other legal data to get insights into those questions, like judicial likely behaviors and outcomes and various scenarios and benchmarking of litigation activity at the lawyer and law firm level. So there’s a tremendous promise in this space. The next category or next area that we’re looking at is the one you reference which is predictive analytics—the ability to determine what’s likely to happen based on past behaviors using current data. There are some unique things going in this space; there are some in litigation. We’ve experimented heavily in the area of legislation so that we can predict for example what we think is the likely outcome of proposed legislation. And again, this area is a rich area of development. It does require a significant amount of technical domain expertise and a massive collection of data just like we talked about with artificial intelligence.
Ari Kaplan: Where are we headed?
Jeff Pfeifer: The future is really interesting because of so many new, enabling technologies. We ask our customers to imagine a future where the interaction between a lawyer and computer systems is very different than today. Technologies like chat bots and other areas—advanced mobile applications, the ability for technology to really personalize a user experience—are all things that are imminently possible now based on both new technologies and the investment in things like machine learning like we talked about earlier. My personal vision for the future is the data-driven lawyer who is interpreting data and getting new insights from information, who can be enabled by new technologies like chat bots and other things that at the end of the day drive those faster insights for their clients.
Listen to the full podcast with Jeff Pfeifer: Empowering the Data-driven Lawyer of the Future
* From Reinventing Professionals, May 12th, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
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