How replaceable can the legal profession be? In the medical field, among many other fields, robots are taking over and replacing medical professionals. Artificial intelligence is the theory of having computer systems perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. These tasks can include visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
In the legal field, there is already a rise of legal technology companies providing alternative legal services backed by AI and machine learning to help enhance the way lawyers practice law. Law firms are using AI to more efficiently perform due diligence, conduct research, and bill hours. However, in recent years, some researchers are expecting the impact of AI to be much more transformative in the legal profession. It’s predicted AI will eliminate most paralegal and legal research positions within the next decade. Could judges and lawyers share the same fate?
Pros and Cons of AI in the Legal Profession
Lane Lillquist is the co-founder and CTO of a legal tech company called InCloudCounsel. His company provides AI tools to customers and attorneys in order to create an efficient online workspace. Something similar to CLIO. Lillquist has researched how AI works in the legal field and explains what we need to fear, and what we should not be afraid of, when it comes to lawyers and robots. According to Lillquist, the role of a lawyer is still vital to conducting quality legal work. AI presents advanced capabilities such as automizing a number of high-volume, recurring tasks that otherwise would take the lawyer’s focus away from more important tasks. To the people who question whether attorneys will start to bill less because of a more efficient AI system, Lillquist says, “It’s a lawyer’s job to solve a problem as quickly and inexpensively as possible… AI will be a godsend because it’ll give lawyers the information they need to resolve conflicts fast.” With the possibility to perform tasks faster, law firms may have more opportunities to take on more cases.
Role of AI in the Legal Profession
As of now, lawyers do not have much to fear because according to Lilliquist, the role of AI in the legal space will continue to be accomplishing narrow and specific tasks in the coming years, such as finding terms in certain documents and filling out forms. Lillquist sees AI continually changing the legal profession and requiring lawyers to possess an increasing number of skills to make use of such technology to remain competitive in the market. This wave of technology will also require the creation of more data analytics jobs that can tap into legal and business datasets and generate actionable insights to improve the practice of law. In fact, Lillquist states that. “We’re already seeing a rise of legal technology companies providing alternative legal services backed by AI and machine learning that are enhancing how lawyers practice law… Law firms will begin building their own engineering departments and product teams, too.”
However, AI can’t replace all means of collecting information. For instance, in depositions and mediations, AI would likely be helpful to the extent of gathering responses and organizing evidence efficiently. In spite of such developments inside the courtroom, it’s hard to imagine how litigators might be replaced by AI. A human’s unique ability to create empathy with jurors and judges alike makes them indispensable to legal deliberations. It is not likely that AI could express the same level of emotion and empathy. Still, when preparing for a cross-examination of an expert witness, AI could be effectively deployed to determine every case in which a particular witness testified, what his or her opinions were, and how juries reacted, much faster and more thoroughly than any human investigator ever could.
Currently, no consensus exists yet as to how AI will ultimately shape the legal profession. However, AI is poised to transform nearly every facet of our lives, and the new technologies it’s powering will have the ability to create a host of unprecedented legal issues, including ownership, liability, privacy, and policing. It is important to know that even though the takeover of the legal field by AI is not totally imminent, we must still prepare and make sense of our rapidly evolving society.