In a recent article for Artificial Lawyer, Richard Jeens and Natalie Osafo – partner and associate respectively at Slaughter and May –  point out that regulators and corporates are increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) to carry out investigations. They offer the example of a complex matter conducted by the Serious Offences Office in the UK (investigations into Rolls Royce, advised by Slaughter and May), in which the SOO used AI to reduce the amount of time required for a document search from a typical two years to one month.

Jeens and Osafo believe that lawyers who work with such agencies would be wise to take note, and to incorporate AI into their own investigations – in part to create for themselves and their clients a level playing field with regulators. They point out the advantages and “boundaries” of using AI for investigations, the former of which include the ability to very quickly sort which documents require further, human review – and even to develop a plan for their review (e.g., marking the most relevant results for reading by the most experienced lawyers).

On the less advantageous side, they remind us that search algorithms are only as useful as the instructions they have been given, that they are less able to cope with unexpected results than humans are, and that legislation has yet to determine the limitations of AI data searches of personal information. Furthermore, as a relatively new technology, AI programs are only gradually learning to detect subtleties in documents, or terms with “coded” meanings.

For these and other reasons, caution is advised, but Jeens and Osafo point out that not only is AI becoming a fixture in investigations, it is likely to expand its range of advantages and services to the field in future.

I would be interested to know your thoughts on this or any other matter related to the law, either in the comments section below or directly via email.