Going to court can be a major hassle, even for those whose job it is to defend or prosecute the individuals who find themselves entangled in a legal web. Looking through hundreds, thousands, or even millions of pages of documentation about each case can be a tiresome and costly endeavor. But manually browsing these stacks of legalese may soon become the job of a computer, rather than that of a living, breathing lawyer.
New software technology called "predictive coding" can sift through millions of pieces of written data and intelligently decide what bits are relevant to a particular legal proceeding. By highlighting keywords or important phrases, the software can comb documents at a lightning-quick pace, and at a fraction of the cost of employing human reviewers to do the task.
The new approach has been met with some serious resistance from some legal experts, but by proving that it can do as good of a job at isolating important information as a human, it is slowly gaining acceptance. In fact, during the prosecution of Enron executives, predictive coding software caught important emails that human reviewers managed to miss.
The technology is still in its relative infancy, and still requires actual lawyers to make sense of all the details it is able to glean from scanned documents. However, it's not a stretch to think that one day the software could link bits of data, form facts, and help build a case without the help of an actual, hired lawyer. Robotic attorneys could be right around the corner.
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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