Throughout the legal industry, many questions circulate around artificial intelligence (AI). Professionals agree AI is changing the practice of law. However, there is no consensus on how much AI will impact the field in the near term.
Many wonder: Will it replace attorneys? How about paralegals or law librarians?
The simplest answer is “no.” However, innovators in the legal sphere are leveraging AI and maximizing its potential to solve challenges in the e-discovery process.
Navigating Web Investigations
The world wide web is an amazing source for discovery.
On any given day, there are roughly 2.5 billion people around the globe in the social web. As they create, delete, and engage with online content through various social media platforms, more opportunities are created for legal professionals to use this data.
However, to access this abundance of information, professionals must be aware of the intricacies of conducting web investigations. The web is a giant unstructured database that poses many challenges. There is an enormous volume of data available at your fingertips, and sifting through it all to find the relevant pieces of information can feel impossible.
AI helps e-discovery teams navigate website investigations; it identifies the important information by creating complex search strings and narrowing results.
Still, while AI has great potential, it is far from replacing human cognition. Combining human cognition with AI can drive remarkable results and, recently, helped our team navigate a challenging case.
Pairing Human Cognition with AI
Our team was handling a case related to an ongoing murder investigation. We had the difficult task of uncovering various individuals’ gang affiliations to see if they were linked with the defendant.
To accomplish this, I worked alongside our analyst team to piece together the story.
Officials provided a list of individuals they believed were linked to the defendant. So, we used the many elements of AI in our proprietary software to find and confirm ownership of social media profiles. Based on the information provided and our research, we learned more about these individuals’ overarching behaviors.
We then looked at photos and conducted further research to see how the parties used slang terms and hashtags in their posts. We knew that a person who primarily wore red and used red filters on their pictures was more likely to be associated with the Bloods gang. If they wore blue and used blue filters, we could reasonably presume they were affiliated with the Crips.
The case hit a breakthrough when we identified relevant gang signs in social media photos. Using this information, we determined which individuals were affiliated with which gang.
While AI was key in getting this investigation off the ground, it was limited in its ability to identify relevant gang signs and assess visual information like images and videos. Using AI in conjunction with our team allowed the legal team in the case to use the gang signs and other information as legally defensible evidence in court.
Making a Difference in the Legal Field
This case is just one of many that demonstrates how human intelligence is the perfect enhancement to AI, especially when it comes to the discovery of social media data.
Unfortunately, a good number of murder cases go unsolved (if they are reported at all). According to FBI data, 46 percent of reported violent crimes were solved in 2015, meaning 54 percent were not. Of the property crimes reported to police, officials only solved 19 percent. Legal professionals can make a dent in this number by pairing AI technology with human cognition. Even the smoothest criminals are bound to leave trace evidence, and it’s more and more likely that this evidence is online, waiting to be discovered and preserved.
Though e-discovery has been a part of the legal field for years, many legal professionals are still in the preliminary stages of harnessing its full potential. We understand just how daunting this task may be without the proper training and tools.
AI and Human Expertise as a Solution
In the midst of technological revolution, legal professionals must adapt to keep pace with the technological competence that web evidence collections require. Utilizing an expert third party to conduct compliant web investigations is a great way to do this without sacrificing your and your clients’ valuable time and money.
For example, a new integration with SMI Aware and Relativity allows users in the platform to quickly access social media and web intelligence reports on demand, without any subscriptions or commitments. Case teams like yours can use it to leverage game-changing AI services quickly, so you can spend less time on logistics and more on case strategy.
The benefit here is faster initiation: users can input information about an individual or organization. The app relays this information to a certified research analyst, who uses SMI’s proprietary software to canvas the social web and identify verified results that are admissible in accordance with federal guidelines. Results are then delivered to the user in PDF format, which can be easily uploaded to their project workspace and incorporated into the ongoing e-discovery project.
In the future, an even more comprehensive app will allow reports to be built from and delivered to Relativity automatically, meaning faster turnaround times and data analysis for your high-stakes projects.
The time for legal professionals to embrace the power of e-discovery is now. Social media trends may come and go, but one thing is for certain: the internet is here to stay, and so are the billions of users uploading valuable information every single second.
Katelyn McCafferty is an expert analyst at SMI Aware, where she helps find and preserve social media evidence and create actionable digital intelligence for lawyers, executives, and investigators.