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May 29, 2018

How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform the Delivery of Legal Services


Nowadays, artificial intelligence is everywhere, performing daily tasks that we, humans, used to practice up until recently. Even the noted theoretical futurist and physicist Michio Kaku made a prediction regarding this matter: “In the future, every job on the market will consist of the ones that cannot be possibly performed by robots.”



And what can’t robots do today? They have already entered the legal workforce. They are performing accounting and design tasks in minutes – given that it would take humans entire days to process these assignments. And now they have entered the legal system, performing tasks that newly graduated lawyers were supposed to have.

So, what does this mean for the future of the lawyers? Will they end up without jobs simply because robots are “faster and more effective?” The answer to that is not entirely black or white – but at this point, one could still say that lawyers are safe.

Technology and the Law System

Lawyers already use technology as support in their tasks – just like doctors do with their healthcare system. It’s efficient, and it will save them a lot of time in the long run. This way, instead of interpreting data themselves, they will use that free time to do something more useful – which will lead to a faster, more accurate decision.

Today, however, the legal system is disaggregating. One cause is globalization along with the financial crisis that sent the whole world into economic turmoil. Now, compared to the costs of manpower, it is less expensive to “hire” a machine for automatically doing the job.

And why wouldn’t they? Studies already showed that AI is 10% faster than humans when it comes to completing a task. Law professors from several universities already went against AI systems that were trained to oversee and evaluate legal contracts.

The results of the “contest” were that humans only achieved an 85% accuracy rate while the AI reached almost 95%. Similarly, while it took only 26 seconds for the AI to reach a conclusion, the human worked for about 92 minutes to achieve the same results. So, what does this say about the future of lawyers, actually?

The AI Assistant

Most researchers say that while it may look like the AI is slowly going to replace humans in the future, the truth is rather different. Instead of replacing humans altogether, the AI could simply become a helper – a baseline helper on which the actual human lawyers can act.

See, for example, pilots and the autopilot feature. In the 90s, a large number of pilots were afraid that they might lose their job once the autopilot mode was enabled. Nowadays, pilots work alongside autopilot features, using them only when the situation asks for it. While the AI is a useful feature to have around, it might not be that well-suited in the event of an emergency.  

Basically, the robot gathers the information and uses it to form a document. For example, if you received bribery charges or have a case of a similar nature, the AI will gather all the important aspects and come up with a suggestion.

Therefore, the lawyer will consider the suggestion and weigh down every glitch and approach. For the AI, everything is black and white – but in some cases, there’s also a grey area. Those charges that the client received may be due to various other reasons – which may not necessarily make him or her guilty. In these cases, the human brain, that is not completely objective, will see through the matter.

AI Dismissing Unpleasant Work

Let’s face it: no one goes through difficult years of law school only to spend the rest of their life looking through NDAs and other similar tasks. Lawyers are smart people, to begin with, and love a challenge. They enjoy putting their brains into action and doing real work will also give them real joy.

For this reason, dealing with entire loads of paperwork is far from being a dream job. Not only is it boring and unchallenging, but it also keeps them way past their program unnecessarily. Lawyers, along with doctors and engineers, are known to have one of the highest IQs and are constantly craving for knowledge. So, they can’t fathom assessing people after people, especially if the case is something extremely basic.

Once the AI is brought into the equation, it takes over the drudge work. The good part about robots is that they don’t get bored, and they don’t need the mental stimulation to function like pros. They are fast and, most importantly, they will not complain since that is a task that they were programmed to do. This way, the whole process will be sped up and the actual lawyers will be able to take care of the important cases.

AI Attracts More Lawyers

Contrary to the general belief, the chances of people applying for a law degree are higher now than ever. People would always shy away from law simply because they thought it would be too difficult – but now, with the introduction of the AI, it couldn’t be easier. Indeed, it will still require a lot of decision-making and case analysis, but the hard work will already be dealt with by the robot.

Furthermore, it’s highly unlikely that robots will be able to think like lawyers. Indeed, the machine can access data within seconds – but if there’s a high-level task that takes many stops and turns, one cannot trust the machine to do the whole work. The best lawyers will know how to wriggle their way through every law and will be able to find a loophole where the AI would have passed right by it.

Final Thoughts

Lawyers will certainly not be replaced by AI. However, the latter will transform the system into something much easier to handle. Lawyers will no longer have to go through tedious paperwork and documentation-gathering and this will allow them to focus their efforts on the what really matters: the client.



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