By Samson Dada
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer system mostly powered by machine and deep learning to perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence. On the other hand, advanced robotics are a combination of sophisticated programming and powerful hardware that make use of smart sensor technology to interact with the real world around it. Compared with conventional robots, advanced robots have superior perception, integrability, adaptability, and mobility.
We are in a decade of fascinating change and it is no longer news that the advent of artificial intelligence has unpredictably disrupted every industry. From drones to translators, self-driving cars, and virtual assistants, AI has permeated virtually every industry than we realize. After profiling over 700 professions, including the legal profession, analytical research by Carl Benedict Frey and Michael Osborne shows that the legal profession is more likely to be computerized before other fields such as counselling, pharmacy, engineering, teaching, among others.
This article shall discuss the threats and benefits of imminent digital disruption to the legal profession by stating the tasks of Lawyers that can be effectively performed by artificial intelligence and advanced robotics. Thereafter, it states the imperativeness of lawyers to understand and prepare for this global trend that will forever upset the traditional practice of law.
IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE A DOOMS DAY FOR THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
About four years ago there were about 200 Legal technology startups in the world, however, today we have about 2000-3000 Legal Tech Startups and each of them are tackling novel problems. Artificial Intelligence is now largely devoted to taking the work that lawyers do and put it to automating network. We are now seeing systems that can essentially take over the work of lawyers.
One of the ways the major law firms earn substantial fees is by putting armies of young lawyers into document review because the idea that some legal works can actually be undertaken by machines seemed historically unthinkable until today. junior lawyers have to identify relevant facts from the mountains of documents. Unfortunately, the manual approach of seeking out relevant information makes document review susceptible to human errors. The availability of Essential AIs upon supervised learning infers for the precise full document review outperforms junior lawyers or a team of lawyers or paralegals and makes document review less fallible and generally much more accurate. For example, ROSS Intelligence is an AI programme that automates legal document review. This legal research platform provides a cognitive computation that uses natural language in analyzing legal documents.
Furthermore, it is trite that Risk Assessment is among the core responsibilities of a lawyer because excellent risk assessment prevents pricey lawsuits. Regrettably, most lawyers and law firms are not good at risk assessment. Fortunately, AI such as TAR (Technology Assisted Review) is capable of ameliorating this inefficiency by using the tool of predictive coding. Also, in recent times we have seen numerous providers of AI tools that help lawyers perform contract and litigation document analytics such as draft consistent, appropriate and up-to-date documents, both in the transactional and litigation spheres, by reference to huge databases of precedents.
Interestingly, AI has also offered a solution to the difficulty of prediction of Legal outcome. Unlike human lawyers, AI can accurately analyze data in a way that correctly envisages the conclusion of a legal dispute. Another crucial role for lawyers is due diligence, especially those in the corporate sector. However, AI can automate the search for relevant document data for review. After it analyses the data, it will export the relevant points to excel for a comparison review. This automated process will not only ensure document sorting, but it would also eliminate manual errors. In addition, expertise automation-based AI commoditizes legal knowledge that enables clients to find answers to questions using the software developed for particular areas of legal information that once would have required interaction with a lawyer. We have also seen software increasingly developed to increase access to justice for individuals who do not have the resources to access a lawyer.
Could it then be said that advent of artificial intelligence is a dooms day for the legal profession? In my opinion, the answer to the question would be in the negative if only future lawyers are willing to access the relative strength and weaknesses of artificial intelligence. Lawyers of the future will not need to be able to “code” but they will need an intimate and continuing understanding of how to identify and use AI solutions to meet the needs of their clients. It is my advice therefore that today’s lawyers should strive to build skills that will qualify them as legal knowledge engineers, legal process managers, legal risk managers or legal designers and they should transport these skills to allow them develop systems that will solve legal problems in new ways.
CAN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE OR ADVANCED ROBOTICS EFFECTIVELY CONDUCT MATTERS PHYSICALLY IN COURTROOMS?
The question most people ask is, ‘which one can be done by the machine and which cannot?’ or ‘Can AI outperform litigation or courtroom lawyers?’. In my view, this is a very limited way of seeing everything. One may not be able to unequivocally say robot will absolutely replace lawyers in the courtroom. However, it can be agreed that, in the nearest future, there will be more cases conducted via online courts than in physical court rooms. For instance, eBay has more than 60million disputes every year and almost none of them sorted out by lawyers and judges instead by something called online dispute resolution.
In fact, it is already happening. One will be right in saying an advanced robotics or AI can undertake the work of a human advocate because countries such as Estonia have already established an AI Judge in a move to streamline government services and clear a backlog of cases for judges. The Estonian government used an AI Judge to adjudicate small claims disputes such as contract claims under 7,000Euros. Similarly in Canada, AI has been used in some areas of the law such as strata property disputes and motor vehicle claims below a certain amount. Also in British Columbia, the Civil Resolutions Tribunal (CRT) uses a form of AI called an expert system.
In my opinion, AI can be a fairer judge because it overcomes human biases as it strictly takes a data driven approach since predictive analytics can find correlations by harnessing enormous amounts of computing power and data, which human brain has no ordinary capacity to do.
Today, all professions are experiencing dramatic use of technology. Most people in U.S.A use online Services than tax advisers to submit their task returns, the best buildings are now designed by algorithms, more people are signing up for online studies in Harvard, we can also see what Amazon has done to book selling and so on.
Thus, many of the tasks we thought were exclusive to lawyers are being taken over and there is increase in the outgrowing body of clients both in the individual and companies who will like a low budgeted cost service and would rather have them conveniently delivered to them electronically. This however is enabling the legal profession rapidly move away from professional service as a craft or bespoke service to increasingly standardized systemized and eventually commoditized service. Lawyers who are ready for the future must therefore endeavor to break free from the shackles of conservatism and maintain a growth mindset as the self-regulatory benefits of the legal profession does not guarantee long-term protection from the threats and benefits of imminent and sporadic digital disruption.
Samson Dada Esq. writes from Lagos. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org