AI in IP Opens Questions of Liability

Lawyers should respond with caution, not aversion

Artificial intelligence is filling the role of attorneys at law firms more and more. And that includes in situations that could get a law firm into trouble.

As artificial intelligence has become more sophisticated, it gets introduced into new industries and job roles. In the legal world, machine learning tools are being adopted for research and crunching litigation data and helping attorneys gain an upper hand in their cases. Popular tools can sift through public data to determine which arguments are the most effective and for which judges. Other solutions might be used to review documents in ediscovery at a pace tens of times faster than humans. Others might be used for research involving private data and doing diligence-related work in transactional law. In any use, artificial intelligence carries its own liability risks that law firms should be aware of, but one AI expert says that shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

“It should be embraced,” said David London, an intellectual property transactional attorney and former global chair for AI at Hogan Lovells.  “[Artificial intelligence] is the future. It’s going to hit every sector. … Law firms would be better served spending their time figuring out how to adopt artificial intelligence solutions and use them in the best interest of their clients rather than shy away from them.”

Spending that time in developing artificial intelligence is not just key to keeping at the crest of the wave of innovation, but it is also essential in limiting liability risks. London said that because machine learning software learns from being trained, it does take a time investment to make it effective. The payoff means saving money by allowing a computer to do the work that might otherwise be handed off to an associate. And the consequences of not using it properly or responsibly could be catastrophic — at least theoretically, London said.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the October 15, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.