AI seems to have apparated into the zeitgeist relatively recently to mixed reviews and with very mixed emotions. In reality, AI has been marching through our lives for decades. What we once thought of as impossible tasks that would require human touch and involvement have become entirely automated. Take for example, mobile check deposit. Not too long ago, the concept of using a camera to make an instant bank deposit without interfacing with a bank teller was incomprehensible. The closest we had was an ATM, and that still required us to insert the paper check into a physical machine, the machine would scan the check, retain the information and provide us with our funds in a day or two. Instant was impossible without a human bank teller. The reality of mobile check deposit is functionally attainable because of artificial intelligence. While the villainous image of AI running the world leading to the eventual termination of the human species looms large in the imagination of some, ahem Elon, AI has been here for years and embracing its possibilities in high-touch fields will improve the work of mediators and the experience of our clients.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to significantly impact the field of mediation by automating tasks, improving efficiency, and providing new tools for mediators to use in resolving disputes. Even with the assistance of software products, most mediators spend countless hours organizing client documents. AI can easily and inexpensively assist with the organization, storage, and retrieval of vast amounts of information. AI cannot replace the reading and analysis of contracts, legal briefs, and settlement agreements, but it can certainly help reduce the time and effort required to manage documents and make information more accessible and easier to analyze.
Mediation takes on different forms unique to the type of case, but inevitably data and documents are involved. Artificial intelligence algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns, relationships, and trends. This can help mediators make more informed decisions, understand the context of the dispute, and predict the outcome of negotiations. Large firms with vast budgets have been utilizing large scale data analysis tools for a few years, however AI makes these tools accessible to smaller and solo mediation practices. Technology-assisted review software implemented early in case assessment can classify and prioritize documents to achieve an expeditious resolution. The ability of AI to analyze large amounts of data, identify and prioritize key documents accelerates the early evaluation of risk. Presently, large firms use AI to evaluate risk when defending or prosecuting cases. On a smaller scale, this technology can detect and sort unique phrases in voluminous documents allowing an individual mediator to examine 1000s of pages of documents in very short order. In minutes, AI categorizes, attaches its own intuitive labels to sets of documents and clusters similar themed documents together. By uncovering potential key words and themes, the mediator can prioritize their review saving client resources and improving the mediator’s process.
AI can vastly improve automation of routine administrative tasks such as scheduling, reminder services, and email communications. The client benefits when mediators can devote more time to focus on strategic tasks, such as building relationships and negotiating settlements. Many mediators already implement automation tools. Accessibility of tools will be the difference maker for the future of mediation. Even relatively simple systems, such as automatic summarization tools can assume the role of a mediator in summarizing discussions. The program may record and convert the speech to text and provide a comprehensive report of all the conversations had between the mediator and the parties. Many clients review the mediator’s post session summary notes as a signal in the noise of the process, enhancing these notes with the addition of AI reporting is a value-add for the client and provides the mediator with some reprieve in notetaking during mediation sessions. In the future, this category of program may provide a summary in real-time to the mediator to further enable them to understand each party’s interests and positions.
With thoughtful implementation and integration, AI gives mediators the option to enhance and support their work and their clients in the mediation process.
As an experienced business law attorney, BOP Services founder Bijal Patel-Weintraub brings a unique perspective to the divorce mediation process. She understands how destructive a divorce can be not only for a family but for a business. Bijal started BOP in 2015 to give business owners a divorce option that provided total control over the process. She works one-on-one with each mediation and coaching client, helping them create a path forward from divorce.