Classic science fiction is full of inaccurate predictions. Humans haven't colonized Venus, families don't own personal rocket ships, and time travel remains a distant dream. But whether we like it or not, machines (like the ones in old sci-fi stories) have taken over millions of human jobs.
Will machines, or artificial intelligence (AI), replace lawyers? Not in the foreseeable future.
If you're unfamiliar with the term AI, Stanford University defines it as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs."
AI has rolled out slowly in the field of law, but it is especially useful for contract review. A program called LawGeex uses algorithms to scan legal contracts to see if revisions or more information is needed.
Despite its impressive capabilities, LawGeex does make mistakes. And a human must feed the program nearly 100 practice-specific contracts for it to reach a consistent level of accuracy.1
Large corporations have hopped on the automation wave as well. IBM teamed up with universities to create "Ross," an AI lawyer that uses Watson to complete legal research.
Some inventors aim to expand automation in more bureaucratic fields of law. The DoNotPay chatbot has successfully helped 215,000 people fight parking tickets,2 and the free program has expanded to assist with maternity leave and landlord cases.
Though AI developments might worry you, we're far away from seeing AI programs advise clients or provide representation in court. The new technology eliminates legwork generally assigned to less experienced partners or paralegals, thereby cutting hours by about 2.5% annually over five years.3
Instead of looking at AI as an unpleasant necessity, bring it into your firm as another tool for success. Even if you lose overall hours, you may gain more valuable time advising clients.
Keep in mind that a variety of programs will benefit your firm by:
- Predicting the outcomes of legal cases
- Analyzing whether a case law motion will be approved or denied
- Mining public data to create rated profiles for lawyers
And if you think AI will fall by the wayside, think again.
Governments have created reports and committees dedicated to exploring AI advances:
Don't lose sleep thinking about malicious machines trying to steal your career. Though you might lose some hours, you'll find yourself on top of data, trends, and the latest technology when you embrace AI.
This article is for informational purposes only.
1Kohn, Alice. "An AI Law Firm Wants to 'Automate the Entire Legal World.'" Futurism. Futurism. 30 January 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.
2Koebler, Jason. "Rise of the Robolawyers." The Atlantic. The Atlantic. April 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.
3Lohr, Steve. "A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But It Won't Replace Lawyers, Yet." New York Times. New York Times. 19 March 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.