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From ‘It Depends’ to Data-Backed
Answers: Automating Legal Case Analysis

November 23, 2023

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This post originally appeared on Above the Law.

As every lawyer knows, the response to nearly every legal question is, “It depends.” The law is a perpetual “what if” field surrounding unfortunate events and large sums of money. And the higher the stakes, the more clients want to know the likelihood of a positive outcome.

To accurately predict case outcomes, a lawyer needs decades of thinking through what-if scenarios, identifying how multiple factors impacted previous case outcomes, and applying case law strategically. But even the savviest, most experienced lawyer couldn’t study every relevant caselaw or predict every aspect influencing a potential new case.

AI offers a shortcut for optimizing the legal case analysis process. Using tools like ChatGPT, or a similar large language AI model specially trained on legal data, you can quickly identify winning legal strategies, increase your odds of positive outcomes, and expand your answer to clients’ what-if questions beyond “It depends.” Here’s how:

Automate and enhance legal case analysis with AI.

Legal case analysis is about discovering how various legal arguments, litigation strategies, and other variables influenced final judgments and verdicts in cases similar to the one you’re currently considering.

Manual legal case analysis is time consuming and labor intensive. Success depends on how much information a lawyer or legal team can consume in a limited time. Even when a lawyer’s career spans decades, she cannot digest a tenth of the information AI can in just a few minutes. With the power of AI in hand, you leverage machine learning algorithms to automate and enhance the entire case analysis process.

Increase the chances of favorable outcomes.

Vendors train legal-specific generative AI models on extensive databases of legal cases and their outcomes. The models analyze features of every case, such as legal issues, facts, jurisdiction, judges' decisions, relevant precedents, and more. You simply input appropriate prompts regarding a current case you want to analyze. The AI system generates a legal case analysis that identifies comparable factors that contributed to successful outcomes in similar past scenarios and offers vital insights that increase your odds of a favorable outcome.

Predictions and probabilities on how a case might unfold give you a clearer understanding of your current case's potential risks and possibilities. With this enhanced clarity, you can make more informed decisions about how to approach a case. And you can get this information early enough to determine whether you want to accept the case.

When you do accept a new case, AI helps identify winning legal arguments, case laws, and precedents that successfully achieved favorable outcomes in the past. You get data-backed insights that help you craft stronger legal strategies and suggestions for tailoring winning arguments to the facts at hand. With insight into judges' tendencies, potential biases, and preferences, you learn what worked before in front of a particular judge to align your arguments with that judge's viewpoint.

Keep the human in legal practice.

While generative AI presents numerous opportunities for improving legal practice, several challenges remain. Data quality is chief among them. Only a comprehensive and unbiased dataset can deliver accurate and meaningful insights.

Additionally, many lawsuits hinge on nuanced legal language that AI struggles to interpret. An AI model may not fully grasp the complex contextual factors in some legal circumstances. Increasing an AI system’s comprehension level is just one reason to train it on legal-specific text.

AI tools also possess inherent limitations. For example, a tool may be unable to access more recent information than several years ago. Ethical considerations also come into play, as analyzing past cases, especially sensitive or high-profile ones, requires careful consideration of data privacy.

Interpret AI-generated results cautiously, as your human judgment and legal expertise remain vital to legal practice. You may still need to preface your responses to legal questions with “It depends.” But now you have data-backed answers to explain what it depends on and why.