EVALUATION STUDY OF AI-ENABLED LEGAL RESEARCH TOOLS: THE LAWPAVILLION ELECTRONIC LAW REPORT AS A NIGERIAN “GUINEA PIG”
Arguably, the most bandied term in digital space these days is Artificial Intelligence. AI, as it is technically referred to in Cyber World, is fast growing pre-eminence in every area of human endeavour conceivable.
. The term “artificial intelligence” is commonly used as a shorthand for a machine doing things we normally associate with human cognition, live learning and solving problems”
According to Charles Law“One cannot open up their computer or turn on their television for any significant amount of time without seeing or hearing about artificial intelligence. The term evokes an almost immediate emotional reaction, often with ideas of dystopian future where human race is no longer master of the planet.”
As superficially nebulous as it looks, AI is gradually catching up with all industrial and economic activities of mankind as far as its inclusivity can muster, at every given stage of technological development.
According to Ross Intelligence a US-band advanced legal research tool that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to make the research process more efficient.
“AI is a broad category, including any software or device that can perceive its environment and adapt its actions to maximize its chances of reaching its goals
According to Poole David, Mackworth Alan & Global Randy,
AI sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.
Technopedia.com defines AI as an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react live humans but Lauwa Diagonette defined AI as a term for simulated intelligence in machines which are programmed to think like a human and mimic the way a person acts.
The aggregate of the foregoing definitions irrespective of the proponents’ diverse perspectives, can be summed up to mean: AI is the use of machine intelligence to ease or putting it mildly, supplement human intelligence in specific areas of human endeavour.
ORIGIN OF AI
According to Tanya Lewis, the beginning of modern AI can be traced to classical philosopher’s attempt to describe human thinking as a symbolic system. But the field of Al wasn’t formally founded until 1956, at a conference at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where the term “Artificial Intelligence” was coined.
Needless to say, that, the focus of this piece is not on AI exclusively but on its inter relativity and/or interconnectivity with the law as a practice tool in Nigeria, hence, the work of Bruce G. Buchanan and Thomas E. Headrick becomes imminent in establishing the origin of Al and legal reasoning. In their article “Some Speculation about Artificial Intelligence and Legal Reasoning,” it was stated thus:
“Inter disciplinary work between the lawyer and the computer scientist has floundered on the misconception that each has of the other’s discipline… A few legal retrieval system have been or is being developed” foot note a somewhat similar system is under development by the American Bar Foundation in cooperation with I. B. M… these processes aid a researcher in finding all the document that might have some conceivable relationship to the problem under search.”
So, it is safe to say that, the infusion/introduction of AI into legal practice had been mooted as far back as 1970 when the use of computers in law firms had not gained so much predominance and integration as obtainable these days.
HOW AI CAN BE USED IN LAW PRACTICE
It has been repeatedly said every time an opportunity presents itself that Al cannot replace lawyers rather, it complements and/or supplements (in a bid to douse lawyers’ scepticism about change foot note) the lawyers work since Al is limited and can only accomplish single and/or narrow task foot note and cannot be trained to perform multiple tasks unlike the human intelligence foot note.
Hence, Al can only be used, at least for now, to/for: argument mining from legal texts; performance of due diligence and research for automated information extraction from legal database; provision of additional insights and shortcuts through analytics; automatic legal text classification and summarization; automation of creative processes (including some writing) in legal work; computational methods for negotiation contract formation and evidential reasoning; contract review by identification of risk factors; computer assisted dispute resolution; prediction of litigation outcomes; deontic logic for legal reasoning; documents automation; e-discovery and e-disclosure; guide lawyers to analyse intellectual properties and draw insight from contents; electronic billing; intelligent support system for law and forensics.
Looking through the specific tasks listed above, one will agree that, resort to AI is only had, to improve the lawyer’s efficiency and speed but not to completely displace the lawyer and needless to say that, AI cannot, at least for now, negotiate contracts, meet with clients, argue matters in court or have human interface which tasks still reside in the exclusive preserve of (human) lawyers.
SOME CURRENT AI LEGAL APPLICATIONS USED IN DEVELOPED WORLD
As near abstract as AI appears to be in Nigerian legal practice, the developed countries have started taking advantage of the digital technology as more companies continue to rise to the challenge. (foot note)
KIRA Systems is a software reputed to be capable of performing a more accurate due diligence contract review by searching, highlighting and extracting relevant content for analysis.
LEVERTON, an offshoot of German Institute for Artificial Intelligence extracts data, manages documents and compiles leases in real estate transactions.
ROSSIntelligence developed a software that undertakes diligent legal research for law suits etc.
CASETEXTallows lawyers to forecast an opposing Counsel’s argument by finding opinions that were previously used.
LOOM features win/loss rates and judge ruling information in civil cases done in Canadian province.
For more legal applications, See AI in Law and Legal Practice – A comprehensive view of 35 current applications by Edgar Alam Rayo.
THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
For whatever it is worth, the Nigerian legal practice has not been completely left out of the AI-rave especially since the influx of computers and other electronic gadgets into the Nigerian law offices and court rooms.
About 11 years ago, a Nigerian Company (Grace Infotech Limited) revolutionized law reporting and legal research in Nigeria when they launched what is arguably Nigeria’s first legal AI application – Law Pavilion Electronic Report (LPELR).
More than anything else, the LPELR provides “click-accessibility” to thousands of reported Nigeria appellate court decisions since the 50s as well as research materials thereby making legal research and reference to law reports easier and faster than they had ever been.
The Law pavilion AI started with its flagship Law pavilion electronic law report AI named which has enjoyed sporadic upgrade to its penultimate version 6.0 which boasted of “additional features including a very robust search engine that will further reduce the problems associated with judicial process by about 60 percent.”
Law pavilion AI has enjoyed a lot of “firsts” in the Nigerian legal profession thus:
In 2016, it launched Nigeria’s first legal analytical software in Africa named “Law Pavilion Prime®.” Speaking of the AI at the launch, Nigeria’s Vice President, H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN said:
“Legal Analytics is not the same with electronic law reporting because what Legal Analytics does is that it helps lawyers to actually derive legal opinion. In the past, of course, if you are researching a point you’ll have to find out for yourself whether there were conflicts in the cases or conflicts in the authorities; that was up to you to find out, or you had to go and look for it in a textbook if there was any. But now, just by using this particular software, it will tell you if there have been conflicts in the cases, how many there have been historically, so you can actually have a historical statement of all of the different twists and turns in a particular legal topic so you can tell what the High Court said, what the Court of Appeal said, what the Supreme Court said at various times on the same point.”
Again in August 2018, the company launched TIMI – Nigeria’s first AI legal assistant. According to Ope Olugasa:
“AI is not here to replace lawyers, rather, it is to augment what lawyers do and free them up to take on higher-level tasks such as advising clients, negotiating deals and appearing in court, thereby being productive and doing much more in less time.
“Our AI is called ‘TIMI’, which is a Chatbot for now, with more complex implementations coming shortly.. It works like a consultant that Lawyers can chat with. It converses with you and helps you get things done faster. It has been programmed to walk the user through the Civil Procedure Rules of Nigeria Courts.
“We are starting with the Civil Procedure Rules because from our research, as a foremost Law Reporting Company in Nigeria, we have come to realize that 48 percent of the cases in the Appellate Courts are not based on the substantive suit; but on procedural issues. This means that a lot of lawyers are erring on the side of procedures in Court, which is chiefly governed by the Civil Procedure Rules of the various Courts. TIMI has been developed to ensure that its users never again err on the side of procedure.”
The LPELR also now, in addition, offers analysis of cases and other research materials thereby easing the time and energy dissipated on preparation of briefs and other court processes.
Law pavilion carefully distils the ratio in the respective judgments as well as the catchphrases and catchwords in the judgments. This, no doubt makes the app stress-free to use and it fulfils the purpose easing legal research and brief-writing.
Law Pavilion does not however stand alone in this category, we now also have legalpedia which is also an electronic law report among others. Various courts (especially the High Court of Lagos States) have however made attempts to employ AI for the purpose of filing court processes but in reality, we are still engaging in manual/paper filing.
Lately, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has also employed AI for service of court processes and other legal documents via its initiative known as “legal mail” which enables all lawyers registered on the database to serve documents via electronic means as opposed to the erstwhile manual service of documents which was associated with all sorts of bottle necks that contribute to our slow Justice – delivery mechanism. Thankfully, our courts have made recent pronouncements on the court’s entrance of AI in the mould of electronic mails as veritable tools of legal practice.
The Lagos Ministry of Justice has also resorted to AI for legal searches on pending land matters in a bid to ease legal searches and due diligence for conveying transactions via the lis pendis registry where electronic searches are concluded on land cases.
Although the movement of the Nigerian legal practice into the world of AI may appear slow, it is gradual and steady and it is only a matter of time before our legal industry is saturated with the kind of AI currently employed and enjoyed in developed jurisdictions. together with their improvements.
* Olumide is a digital rights lawyer and Co-founder of Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (of Nigeria). firstname.lastname@example.org. www.olumidebabalolalp.com
 A Los Angeles based lawyer who owns and operate multiple hospitality concepts across the United States
 Artificial Intelligence and the evolution of Law.www.forbes.com).
 Artificial Intelligence and the Role of Expert Witnesses in Litigation. . https://blog.rossintelligence.com
 See Computation Intelligence; A logical approach. New York Oxford University Press. ISBN – 0-19-510270-3.
 Published in 1970 in Stanford Law Review: Vol 23, No 1, (Nov. 1970) 40-62
 Kira is intuitive, easy-to-use software for uncovering relevant information from contracts and related documents. https://kirasystems.com/how-it-works
 A German Company which focused its commercial development of both its advanced algorithms and software package but in 2014, a real estate private equity firm heard them speaking at a conference on the ability to use artificial intelligence to semi-automate the process of information extraction from documents in a variety of languages. They had a portfolio of 90 assets that needed lease abstraction in a limited amount of time because of a tight due diligence window. LEVERTON, by accident or luck, got its first customer and entered the world of real estate documentation abstraction. https://www.leverton.ai/about_us
 ROSS is a legal research platform powered by artificial intelligence for U.S. law. https://rossintelligence.com/
 Casetext’s artificial intelligence search, CARA, finds cases on the same facts, legal issues, and jurisdiction as the instant matter. https://casetext.com/
 Loom Analytics is a Toronto based legal-tech company. Loom has built a SaaS legal analytics system that provides a graphical and tabular representation of data embedded in court decisions