The problem with email
Email has been around for decades, and yet it hasn’t changed much. We must sort through dozens of messages to find the ones that matter. Only a small percentage of the emails we receive are important to view; the rests are advertisements and junk mail.
This outdated system may work for you as long as you have plenty of time to sort through the “junk,” or if you don’t receive many emails. But what if you get hundreds of emails every day? And what if one pertained to a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, or contained the confession of a client accused of murder? It would be a shame if they accidentally got sent to SPAM and you never saw them. One email could potentially make or break a case you’re working on.
Another troubling issue with email is that there’s no system for prioritization. An email about a new night cream arrives with the same level of importance as one from a client. These are a few of the many issues you must deal with when it comes to email.
Email lags behind when other forms of technology are moving forward at a rapid pace. Why is it that we now have self-driving cars but the only way to find important emails is to manually sift through them? It’s a problem that countless professionals, not just attorneys, must deal with. Though other areas of technology have made great strides in the last few years, email architecture still can’t support the unique needs of attorneys.
But this is finally changing. You can now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to interpret and classify the emails in your inbox, assign importance to your priority emails, and differentiate between an advertisement and an important email from a client.
Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person? This can be embarrassing, but in the legal world, it can result in expensive repercussions. The new AI system notifies you if you’re about to erroneously send a confidential email. It gives you a moment to double check and make sure you’re sending it to the right party. And, as with any AI solution, the email program learns and improves. The more you use it, the more useful it will be.
Email and DMS
The new email systems for law firms provide a secure connection to your document management system (DMS). This is especially important in the legal world due to the massive number of documents that are generated. From research to trial notes, law firms generate thousands of pages of documents each year. Imagine having an email program that can readily access any piece of information you need.
Document management systems are the perfect solution for sorting through and organizing emails. As the technology improves, these programs will also have the ability to connect emails with the right documents. AI will recognize specific words in an email and find the documents that pertain to it.
Increase your billable hours
Managing hundreds of emails each day is challenging for anyone, but for attorneys, it means lost revenue. Until now, all the time spent using your smartphone to handle emails wasn’t billable. With AI, you can now charge for this because your smartphone can recognize what case you’re working on and create a timesheet for it.
When you use a DMS system on your mobile device, the intelligent email system can identify a client’s email and find the correct folder for it. This prevents you from accidentally deleting or losing important emails. As an attorney, you’re expected to generate revenue, and with the new AI email programs, you can. This is good for your firm and frees you up to spend time on more important tasks.
Other industries are also benefitting from this technology. Employees spend a great deal of time on their mobile devices to conduct business. Software developers are working to create automatic responses based on the type of email received and sent. Google is a frontrunner in this technology with its new service called “Smart Reply.” Users can choose from three different responses based on the contents in an email. So far, this is widely accepted, and people say that it saves them time. No more typing repetitive responses like, “Thanks” or “Will talk to you soon.” Just choose from the list, select a response and within a few moments, you’ve dealt with it.
Other industries using AI with Email
Who knows? Someday Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be able to read and answer all of our emails. A new communication platform for Air Traffic Controllers uses learning algorithms to speed up computer, mobile, and SMS communications. Big companies like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn are experimenting with ways to decipher the contents of an email and reply with an appropriate response.
Inboxes that utilize machine learning are able to recognize what the email is about and generate natural-language responses. Because of the special nature of legal work, these responses will be more complex–this has been a major challenge. Crafting an intelligent response that in no way offends the client or breaks the law is a huge concern. However, it’s important to realize that machine learning adapts and evolves. It learns from its mistakes. This means we can expect a future where most lawyers can handle emails on their mobile devices with just a few clicks.
Moving forward with AI and Email
Some companies have experienced firsthand how employees waste too much time each day on redundant email tasks. This time represents millions of dollars each year in lost revenue. For attorneys and law firms who charge hundreds of dollars per hour, this figure escalates to the billions of dollars.
The challenge for software developers is to build Artificial Intelligence for apps that accurately replicate human behavior. Since AI is all about the machine learning as it evolves, developers believe this is entirely possible.