Impact of Machine Learning in the Legal Industry: The Future of Artificial Intelligence

By – Johnny Joy and Ukashatu Ibrahim

As the saying goes, law is pervasive in nature, it pervades all aspects of human endeavors, artificial intelligence can therefore, not be an exception to this general notion. In this wise, there must be a paradigm shift or a change in the aged-long nature of the practice and development of law to suit the contemporary practice in the workplace. The authors of this article, seek to analyze the concept of AI and the practical aspect of it, move further to correlate it with the intricacies of the practice of law, and recommend its incorporation in the legal industry.


AI is an abbreviation of the phrase “artificial intelligence”, comprising of two distinct terms, to wit; “Artificial”, which denotes a phenomenon arising from unnatural occurrence. According to the online oxford Dictionary, it means “something made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, especially as a copy of something natural “. Whilst the term intelligence literally entails the ability or capacity to comprehend; the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.[i] Artificial Intelligence term was coined by John Mcarthy in 1956. He defined it as “the science and engineering making of intelligent machines.[ii] Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.[iii]

Scientifically speaking, AI is the branch of computer science that deals with written computer programs that can solve problems creatively.[iv] AI is also described as using technology to automate tasks that “normally require human intelligence”.[v] Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals.[vi]

More technically, Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science that endeavors to replicate or simulate human intelligence in a machine, so machines can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.[vii] Some programmable functions of AI systems include planning, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is its ability to rationalize and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal.[viii]


The transformation brought about by AI in different industries has made business leaders and the mainstream public think that we are close to achieving the peak of AI research and maxing out AI’s potential.[ix] However, understanding the types of AI that are possible and the types that exist now will give a clearer picture of existing AI capabilities and the long road ahead for AI research.[x] Thus, depending on how a machine compares to humans in terms of versatility and performance, AI can be classified under one, among the multiple types of AI.[xi] Some of these types of AI are;

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI):This is also referred to as Narrow AI. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) are systems that can only perform a specific task autonomously using human-like capabilities. These machines can do nothing more than what they are programmed to do, and thus have a very limited or narrow range of competencies.[xii] Examples of Narrow AI include; Self driving car, IBM’s Watson, Image facial expression software, Email spam fitters and many more.

Artificial General Intelligence:This is also referred to as strong AI or deep AI. It is a concept of a machine with general intelligence that mimics human intelligence and behaviors, with the ability to learn and apply its intelligence to solve any problem. AGI can think, understand, and act in a way that is indistinguishable from that of a human in any given situation.[xiii] Since there are no real life examples of strong A.I. yet, the best representation would be how Hollywood portrays robots.[xiv]

Artificial Super intelligence (ASI):Artificial Super Intelligence is the stage of Artificial Intelligence when the capability of computers will surpass human beings. ASI is currently a hypothetical situation as depicted in movies and science fiction books, where machines have taken over the world.[xv] As ASI will become by far the most capable forms of intelligence on earth. The impact this will have on humanity, our survival, and our way of life, is pure speculation.[xvi]


Artificial intelligence affects every facets of human lives, including our businesses and the legal industry. Artificial intelligence enhances human capabilities and efficiency. In our today world, there have been an increased use of technology. Most lawyers employs the use of technology in their lawyering. Undoubtedly, technology has enabled most law firms to aggregate, store, and provide statistics about the law in many ways.[xvii] After a holistic view about Artificial Intelligence in general, it is also pertinent to know how it is used in law. At its heart, “AI and law” involves the application of computer and mathematical techniques to make law more understandable, manageable, useful, accessible, or predictable.[xviii] AI applied to law largely began focused upon knowledge-representation and rules-based legal systems.[xix]

The growing interest in applying AI in law is slowly transforming the profession and closing in on the work of paralegals, legal researchers, and litigators;[xx] creating more opportunities in the legal world. Artificial intelligence is on the rise so as to make lawyering enjoyable, interesting, easier and faster. There are so many misconception surrounding the use of Artificial intelligence in law, some say there will be less lawyers because of increased robotics lawyers. This is an illusion, far from reality, artificial intelligence can never replace a human lawyer, it will only help lawyers carry out their jobs easily. Recently, the company called ROSS Intelligence has started using the IBM computer called Watson in order to perform legal research.[xxi] Specifically, they are attempting to get Watson to understand and interpret the legal terminology used by lawyers in order to look up case law and statutes.[xxii] Other firms are developing similar technology that will enable lawyers to delegate the task of reviewing contracts to a computer.[xxiii]


Furthermore, technology is mainly used to make a task easier. In the same vein Artificial intelligence makes lawyerly task efficient and faster. Technologies like machine learning and Artificial intelligence do not take break, they work continuously without taking vacations; unlike the human labor force. The application of Artificial intelligence and machine learning is an added advantage to the legal industry. It is beneficial to lawyers and law firms. Artificial intelligence forms the basis for all computer learning and is the future of all complex decision making.[xxiv]

Moreover, Artificial intelligence ease fraud detection by employing the use of software and e-discovery. It helps to easily detect fraudulent activities. Artificial intelligence also ease lawyerly task like legal research, due diligence, documents automation, legal analytics, litigation analysis, predictive coding, contract drafting and signing amongst others. Artificial intelligence employs the use algorithm, software computation and coding in other to make legal work easier and faster. This saves the lawyer an amazing amount of time, energy, and money. It ease lawyering, but it cannot totally replace the human lawyer. The future of the legal industry would be promising and exciting; if firms, organization, courts and lawyers use artificial intelligence. Similarly, the impact of machine learning in the legal industry would make lawyering sophisticated and advantageous to the lawyer.


The article has demystify the impact of Artificial Intelligence in law, the future of the legal industry. As it currently stands, AI is neither magic nor is it intelligent in the human-cognitive sense of the word.[xxv] The most acknowledged benefit of AI tools in legal practice seems to be improving efficiency.[xxvi] The impact of AI and machine learning in law is to enhance efficiency and improve lawyering. Indeed for some legal matters there may be little choice but to leverage human expertise, but other processes and services will be augmented heavily by AI, and the field itself will eventually have to shift.[xxvii]

Owing to the application of technologies like AI and machine learning, the future of the legal industry would be buoyant with less manual task. Conclusively, the future of the lawyering would be super easy and faster; promoting easy flow of lawyerly task.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR This blog has been authored by Johnny Joy, who is 2nd Year Law student at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma & Ukashatu Ibrahim, who is a 5th Year Law student at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.