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Is Artificial Intelligence positive or negative for a lawyer?

The development of Artificial Intelligence suggests a huge change in almost all modern society’s job markets. Studies conducted at Oxford and Yale Universities anticipate that all jobs will be replaced by robots within 125 years. 

Is a century and a quarter in the future too long for you? Ok, what would you say about the projection of at least 20 million jobs being replaced by robots as far as 2030? Does this situation seem closer and more realistic?

In any case, what is the perspective of the advent of Artificial Intelligence in a lawyer’s life? Should he/she fear technologies or embrace them in order to do a better work? This is what we’ll see next! 

What’s the current status of Legal Artificial Intelligence?


Despite the many alarming reports in the media, the development of Artificial Intelligence doesn’t happen in the way we are led to believe. In fact, there are hundreds of tools using AI to improve your life. 

An example of this is the cell phone application that finds the best routes to get home. In such application there is an algorithm that analyzes the current position of the user, his/her destination and searches for updated traffic data in order to offer the best routes.

Therefore, today Artificial Intelligence can be understood as a tool that optimizes the user’s work rather than an instrument which is able to think and to create on its own.

In fact, Artificial Intelligence tools are already present in the legal world. There are legal software products that use AI to improve the productivity of law firms around the world.

By the way, according to lawyer Tom Girardi (who inspired the movie Erin Brockovich); among lawyers it is currently considered legal malpractice NOT to use Artificial Intelligence tools. 

“It would be analogous to a lawyer in the late 20th century still doing everything by hand instead of using the computer”, said Girardi in an interview to Forbes magazine. 

The fact is that nowadays Artificial Intelligences are used to optimize lawyers’ and paralegals’ work all over the world. 

They can collect information in legal systems or in a database about cases, victims and defendants to provide the lawyer with as much information as possible in order to prepare a thesis or legal argument. 

Furthermore, some of the best applications for lawyers use Artificial Intelligence to suggest tasks or actions in a certain case. The algorithm is able to read what was done in similar cases and then create possible action plans so that a human lawyer can seek the best defense for the client. 

Artificial Intelligence also takes part in an important area of a lawyer’s routine: interviewing witnesses or persons of interest in some cases. 

The most advanced techniques of facial recognition use algorithms capable of detecting subtle changes in a person’s skin coloration, and imperceptible signs such as dilation of the pupil, increase of temperature and others.

Based on these signs, the system is capable of detecting whether the person is lying, hiding something or telling the truth. That’s why it can be a useful ally in an inquiry or in surveying data for certain cases. 

Will AI put lawyers out of business?

Not at all. On the contrary, these tools prove the importance of good professionals in the field and will make their work even more valuable. 

It is true that there are tests that showed the good performance of robots against lawyers. However, it is necessary to know their parameters in order to understand the situation correctly. 

An example of this is the famous test of LawGeex, which defeated 20 lawyers in a dispute on the revision of contracts. 

In the competition, the AI was trained solely to detect failures or pitfalls in a specific contract based on tons of legal system data. It did find more failures in the contract than the lawyers. However, it consists of a highly specialized and somehow mechanical operation. 

The machine, for instance, wouldn’t be capable of getting to an agreement with the other party in order to satisfy a client. And considering that the majority of legal disputes are settled by means of agreements, it wouldn’t be able to cope with this important part of the legal system.

This means that Artificial Intelligence is still reduced to a mechanical scope in the legal area, comparing data and checking documents to aid the lawyer’s routine. A tool that uses AI can’t prepare a client’s defense strategy by itself, for example.

Law firms that count with this kind of tool will be able to assist more clients in a shorter time, making their efforts more valuable and efficient. In short: lawyers that know how to take advantage of technology have everything it takes to be in a prominent position in the market.

What are the AI’s perspectives for the future?

That being said, it is likely that you are still in doubt about the future of Artificial Intelligence. It is already clear that currently it is a powerful ally, isn’t it? But what about the next decades? Can it become an obstacle?

It is unlikely that it will. As mentioned before, most legal cases are settled out of court, which is a field where AI can hardly penetrate. 

This is one more element showing that Artificial Intelligence is not ready to “undertake the legal world” as many people think. 

Song Richardson, dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law, is a specialist on the research on unconscious bias. According to her, AI could deepen the problem because it collects “data with bias”, which could lead to a “decision influenced by bias”. 

Because of that, she thinks that it is unlikely that in the future artificial intelligences would put lawyers and judges out of business. According to her, this would be “the opposite of justice”. The ideal, therefore, would be “teaching future lawyers and judges how Artificial Intelligence works and what its implications in the legal field are”. These statements were given to Forbes. 

As you can see, it is important that the best legal software in the market offers tools that use Artificial Intelligence. Having this at hand will only enable the lawyer to be more competent with more chances to win his/her cases. A world dominated by robots, at least in the legal field, is still only science fiction. 

What is your opinion about this discussion? Leave a comment below.


Author: Digital Solutions   

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