AI in law- Could Robot Lawyers be the future?
- Corporate & Commercial Law
- 1st Sep 2021
The growing prominence of technology is undeniable in modern day society a prime example being the NHS track and trace app. A decade ago it would seem absurd to suggest an app could tell you when you have been exposed to a virus and need to isolate. Technology has also revolutionised the legal sector with online services such as Westlaw and LexisNexis making legal research easier than ever. However, could (and should) AI software systems replace lawyers once and for all?
By aleksMLP Law
Co Authored by Sadiyah Ahmed (work experience August 2021) and Stephen Attree
The growing prominence of technology is undeniable in modern day society a prime example being the NHS track and trace app. A decade ago it would seem absurd to suggest an app could tell you when you have been exposed to a virus and need to isolate.
Technology has also revolutionised the legal sector with online services such as Westlaw and LexisNexis making legal research easier than ever. However, could (and should) AI software systems replace lawyers once and for all?
The legal sector is not immune to the transformational impact of technology. Whilst Robot Lawyers are not, yet, a reality the phenomena of Artificial Intelligence handling legal tasks does seem to have its benefits and is growing in prominence. The idea of a passive mediator, cold and calculating, who holds absolutely no judgement may seem attractive to clients.
Positives? There are barriers which prevent regular solicitors from working effectively which robot lawyers are not subject to. A Robot Lawyer available 24/7 365 with no illness or holiday (or employment rights?!)
Negatives? Conversely, technology is known to be unreliable at times; variables such as weather and connectivity issues may effect ‘robot lawyers’ performances. Are you sure the robot will be using the up to date law and practice in your jurisdiction? We already often see off the shelf templates suitable for New York and wholly inappropriate for English or British legal jurisdictions.
Do Not Pay [for legal] is an app created by Joshua Browder, a 24-year-old from California. It helps people reword their letters in a manner supposedly legally appropriate and accurate. With 150,000 paying subscribers and an award from the American Bar Association perhaps this app has highlighted a gap in the legal market.
On one hand, it seems fair to suggest it is impossible for an app to replicate the due diligence of a lawyer. Surely, technology is unable to comprehend extraneous variables in the same manner as humans? In the UK prior to the SQE lawyers have had to do their 3-year law undergraduate degree, complete their legal practitioners course and then gain a two-year training contract and only after all that are they able to advise clients. It would be almost impossible for AI to duplicate a lawyer’s legal knowledge.
Perhaps, it’s unreasonable to suggest that AI will replace the solicitors. For instance, the aim of the AI app is not to replace a lawyers work but rather to replicate certain tasks which have traditionally been carried out by lawyers when a traditional lawyer is unreachable or inaccessible. Whilst robot lawyers may be a stretch AI could help take care of more mundane tasks in law. Technology has already improved efficiency in regards to legal communication. Email correspondence have commonly replaced letters. However, where they are necessary legal letters drafting, document checks and other tasks which require entry level jobs could very well be done by AI. Taking a business viewpoint, all law firms are essentially a business and need to make a certain sum of money to remain in operation thus it follows that if AI can free up some of lawyer’s time then this would absolutely be beneficial as it would increase efficiency levels as lawyers would have more time.
Thus, it seems fair to conclude that whilst Robot Lawyers may not be on the immediate horizon, the use of AI in legal services can be beneficial, is already here to a certain degree, and would undoubtedly further modernise the legal sector.
The legal sector should continue to innovate, adapt and utilise the opportunities and benefits AI presents.
If you have any questions about the above, please get in touch with a member of the MLP Law Corporate team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0161 926 9969.
About the expert
Stephen is the Owner of MLP Law and leads our Commercial, IP and Dispute Resolution teams which provide advice on all aspects of the law relating to mergers, acquisitions, financing, re-structuring, complex commercial contracts, standard trading terms, share options, shareholder and partnership agreements, commercial dispute resolution, joint venture and partnering arrangements, IT and Technology law, Intellectual Property, EU and competition law, Brexit and GDPR.
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