Legal teams to benefit from lawbots and virtual legal assistants. Source: Shutterstock

Legal teams to benefit from lawbots and virtual legal assistants. Source: Shutterstock

Gartner sees virtual legal assistants providing great help to organizations

ORGANIZATIONS often find that their legal teams are under pressure, especially with compliance becoming integral to growth in the digital era.

To cope with that pressure, Gartner believes that organizations need to turn to virtual legal assistants or legalbots.

Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), virtual legal assistants can scour through hundreds of thousands of pages of legal text, analyze it, and pick out relevant sections applicable to a particular case/request in order to generate insights and advice.

“While virtual legal assistants, legal chatbots, and lawbots may seem like hype, their use in legal departments can yield significant benefits. This will significantly disrupt the legal technology marketplace,” said Gartner Legal & Compliance Director Zack Hutto.

Hutto’s team at the analyst firm believes that virtual legal assistants will handle a quarter of all internal requests by 2023.

According to experts, virtual legal assistants are incredibly efficient — and can help legal departments optimize workflows by streamlining matter intake, triaging legal requests, determining the necessity of legal review, and automating routine legal workflow.

A recent Gartner survey of legal professionals suggests that firms are increasingly resorting to such tools in order to boost productivity.

Further, in today’s digital-first era, it seems as though virtual legal assistants can also ease employee concerns about anonymity in situations where they perceive a risk simply from asking for information, such as whistleblower reporting and harassment claims.

“Legal departments will benefit through increased efficiency gains, improved employee satisfaction, and from more opportunities to retask legal experts to higher-value activities. These sought-after benefits will open up the market to new entrants who can provide self-service applications with AI and conversational interfaces,” explained Hutto.

Gartner’s analysts believe that legal bots are already proving their value and versatility to users in citizen and consumer law and is in use in the UK to provide guidance to victims of crime and people seeking a divorce.

Hutton believes that the consumerization of chatbots across a wider society is fueling employee expectations and reinforcing the trend towards virtual legal assistants.

“Moreover, platforms such as Amazon Lex, IBM Watson, and Slack enable legal-focused vendors and services providers to rapidly address the needs of various legal functions and domains without having to develop a core technology or infrastructure backbone.”

In the coming months, experts and analysts expect more organizations to use virtual legal assistants — not only to boost efficiency but also to encourage more employees to seek out legal help for projects in the digital age.