2040 A.D.: Artificial Intelligence marks its superiority in the Legal Profession

Science, technology, innovation and development has been dominating this 21st century by establishing its supremacy over almost every facet of our daily lives. With the fusion of technologies and remarkable innovations like 5G, Quantum Computing, 3D printing, Energy Storage and many more, this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is escalating at such exponential pace. Artificial Intelligence is one of such sectors which has reverberations around the globe. From automatic cars and virtual assistance to biometrics and drones, AI has experienced a resurgence with these astonishing inventions and has already established its ascendancy as an integral part of any society.

Modern AI techniques are used in almost every sectors of day to day life to help assist humans to work with better performance, efficiency, accuracy and diligence. AI helps and assists humans to work without human involvement. This has led to an alteration of how people live, work, communicate and coordinate with each other. AI is taking over the jobs of people by making itself more accurate and efficient as human workers.

Automatic cars led to a higher unemployment rate amongst drivers, advanced security cameras and systems took over security guards, AI in healthcare like robotic surgery has marked the dominance of the use of science and technology over health care helpers and professionals. In a speech over the weekend at an entrepreneurship conference in central China, Jack Ma, co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, predicted that in 30 years, a robot will likely be on the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO.[1]

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Field

After taking over health, education, transportation, security and government sectors, AI has started to take over jobs of paralegal, legal researcher and litigators. With the “profound reforms” across the legal profession, within the next 10 years, it is predicted that 39% of jobs in the legal sector will be automated.[2] AI is used in the legal profession to assist lawyers and clients to address various legal problems and come out with more accurate, speedy and efficient solutions. Artificial Intelligence is used in the legal field to predict outcomes of the case, to draft contracts, analyze contracts, verify documents, predict a win or lose over a case by analyzing the previously established precedents and history of the judge. Law firms now use software templates to create and fill out documents based on data input.

AI has given rise to various applications and platforms which have contributed to decreasing the workload of every legal practitioner throughout the globe by helping them find a relevant precedent, laws, custom search, keyword search and many more facilities.  Apart from pointing out the problems, this AI software also helps in solving or minimizing them by providing appropriate suggestions for editing and approval. With the use of AI and technological changes in legal fields by law firms, litigators, lawyers and legal researchers, there are high chances of legal practitioners being redundant anytime soon shortly. 

A Brighter Side

AI in the legal field could take over most of a legal practitioner’s workload. However, on a brighter side, the use of technology also will help improve the quality of civil or criminal justice. The machines are far more diligent, accurate and efficient than humans. Although AI is certainly set to change the way legal practitioners work, it will hopefully make day-to-day tasks like drafting and legal research far more efficient and cost-effective for both, the lawyers and the clients. Companies such as F-Lex and LawFlex are connecting law firms and barristers with freelance law students and paralegals which allows work to be outsourced quickly and easily without the need for a legal team to be in the same building.[3]  

Platforms like Casetext, Manupatra, SCC Online, Casemine etc. have contributed to decreasing the workload of every legal practitioner throughout the globe by helping them find a relevant precedent, laws, custom search, keyword search and many more facilities. These Artificial Intelligence technologies allow the legal professionals to help decrease the workload, come out with more possible and concrete solutions to a legal problem, finalize the case in a dispute with more accuracy, expand the legal research and drafting to next level, improve the overall justice system of a country and also changes the procedure of interaction with the clients.

AI technology conducts Legal Research

Legal Research is finding a perfect or accurate and reliable answer to a legal problem. Legal Research requires a lot of effort and can be extensively lengthy, time-consuming and monotonous. It takes a lot of time and effort to conduct legal research by applying different research methodologies. But AI has broken all the myths regarding the monotonous and time-consuming research by introducing different software to guide legal practitioners in conducting legal research.

Software like ROSS Intelligence and Westlaw Edge has been assisting and augmenting legal professionals to improve their research skills and cognitive abilities. The research is fast, more accurate and efficient. The chances of error are minimal and this software is more flexible and secured. Even in India, companies like SpotDraft, Pensieve, NearLaw, Practice League etc. are building advanced level research platforms and applications that helps legal professionals to go beyond simple, keyword-based research, thereby making it less time-consuming and error-free.

Contract Review

Reviewing contract is simply a rational analysis of the signed contract between parties to find out flaws or loopholes which could hurt their clients. Reviewing hundreds of contracts by a single lawyer is a tiresome job. Understanding and clarifying the contract and facts related to it is itself monotonous and time-consuming. On top of that, the Contract Review also includes measuring the feasibility of contract and predicting the potential loopholes and risks of the contract. To do these, one must be mentally healthy, sharp and must possess a good quality of analyzing things critically and logically.

However, now one must just press a button and wait for the AI to do all these. Software like Kira Systems, LawGeex, eBrevia and LexCheck are currently working towards the development of AI systems that can automatically ingest bulk of proposed contracts, analyze them one by one and determine which portions of the contract are acceptable and which are problematic. This reduces the chance of error and work is done in less amount of time without any human resource.

Predicting Cases

Predicting cases is one of the important skills of a lawyer. An ethically sound lawyer should be able to predict the outcome of any legal dispute by studying the case facts, applying relevant laws and precedents and tell their clients about the winning chances and potential risk factors. However, humans always may not be able to do so but AI has the capability of analyzing data and predict more accurately than humans. Random forest is one such supervised algorithms used in AI software used to predict cases and other legal disputes. The Toronto-based company “Blue J Legal” is a startup developing an AI-powered legal prediction engine, with an initial focus on tax law which can predict case outcome with 90% accuracy.

A team of computer scientists at University College London led by Dr Nikolaos Aletras developed a software with the algorithm that examined English language data sets for 584 cases relating to torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy.  The software analyzed the facts, relevant laws and previous precedents and made its own judicial decision. In 79% of those assessed, the AI verdict was the same as the one delivered by the court.[4]

Recently in 2020, researchers from IIT have evolved an Artificial Intelligence-aided method to read legal judgments, which can not only tell which laws are getting violated but also aids in the process of minimizing legal costs.[5]

Artificial Intelligence initiated Divorce

From paper work to divorce forms and finally advocates fee, divorce is one of the hectic and time-consuming jobs in the legal field. To mitigate this problem, Michelle Crosby and her team developed an AI-based software which assists couples to conduct a self-guided divorce. Couples create a profile in this software and they are guided through an online questionnaire. After this, they are provided with a parenting plan and marital settlement agreement which they submit to a certified private judge. With a goal of “making every divorce amicable”, this software not only keeps out couples from courtrooms but also minimize the divorce cost and time.

Conclusion

The use of AI in the field of law will have a great impact on the lives of lawyers, judges, researchers and even clients. However, AI has not yet developed in such an advanced and logical manner that it may replace all legal practitioners. After all, lawyering is all about skills and legal methods/ techniques. Scientist have not been able to develop AI which can think on its own and use logical reasoning or critical analysis to solve a legal problem. In the end, humans are the most sophisticated beings and also humans were the one who invented all AI technologies, so chances of AI sweeping away all humans from the job is not an expected outcome anytime soon.  


[1] Sherisse Pham, “Jack Ma: In 30 years, the best CEO could be a robot“, 2017.

[2] Caroline Hill, “Deloitte Insight: Over 100,000 legal roles to be automated“, 2016, available athttps://legaltechnology.com/deloitte-insight-100000-legal-roles-to-be-automated/

[3] available at: https://www.thelawyerportal.com/blog/artificial-intelligence-law/

[4]Artificial intelligence ‘judge’ developed by UCL computer scientists“, available at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/24/artificial-intelligence-judge-university-college-london-computer-scientists

[5] Rica Bhattacharyya, “IIT Kharagpur develops AI system to read legal judgments“, 2020, available at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/iit-kharagpur-develops-ai-system-to-read-legal-judgments/articleshow/73296111.cms?from=mdr.

Ashutosh Pandey from National Law College, Nepal


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