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Artificial intelligence and the law

Published on: 26 Sep 2016

michael baily2

Michael Bailey, specialist legal recruiter at Sellick Partnership, gives his views on artificial intelligence, and its place within the legal sector.

Artificial intelligence and the law

Technological advancements and the rise of artificial intelligence (A.I) has brought the topic to the forefront of the legal profession across the globe, with much debate around the opportunities, threats and benefits. Machines are now able to win at chess, interact with people, as well as solve complicated algorithms and questions at the tap of a button – but how could artificial intelligence change the legal profession in the future and will it be for better or worse?

In the broadest sense, A.I is intelligence that can be exhibited by a machine, for example technology that can think, do and perform tasks that would usually require human intelligence. There are now software systems and programmes like ROSS and RAVN ACE, two systems that enable legal teams to work more efficiently, saving time and resource. ROSS for example is an A.I system that assists legal professionals enabling them to research faster and focus more time on clients. ROSS allows lawyers to ask complex questions relating to the case and will respond in seconds. Both ROSS and RAVN ACE systems are currently being used across the globe and are expected to revolutionise how law is practiced in the future.

However, is the legal sector ready to embrace technological advancements or should the introduction of A.I be treated with caution?

Artificial intelligence: a new era approaches

Recent research conducted by Deloitte and The University of Oxford has suggested some 10 million British jobs will be lost by 2020 as a result of technological advancements in A.I, with some sectors more at risk than others. In my opinion, we are a long way off A.I taking over the role of humans in the legal sector. That being said, we are witnessing technological advancements that are receiving varying levels of support from legal professionals.

Currently, software systems such as ROSS and RAVN ACE are designed to help legal professionals work more efficiently, and that also claim to help mitigate risk by reducing the number of mistakes as a result of human error. When a client seeks out legal representation the first step in the process is to research and build the case, an often time-consuming and laborious task. Legal research is usually carried out by administrators, paralegals or junior legal professionals at a substantial cost to any firm. With A.I there is a real opportunity to reduce the amount of time and effort involved by allowing software and computers to undertake these activities.  

It is extremely difficult for a legal professional to be completely up-to-date with all current legislation no matter how experienced they might be. Through the use of sophisticated technology law firms can more efficiently explore historical information and balance this against current legislation saving valuable time and resource. A legal professional spending less time reading up to build a case will have more time to spend on other cases and therefore be more cost effective to the firm and a bigger asset to their client base.

Artificial intelligence: What does this mean for future legal professionals?

A.I by definition means ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines’. It is impossible to predict what the future holds as new technologies are being introduced all the time. Science fiction has allowed us to believe that one day we can have artificial machines that no longer need supervision, and can think and do of their own accord. If this is the case the possibilities are endless, but could you ever trust a machine to fight your case in court? In short I would say the answer is no, but I do believe A.I will in time revolutionise the way lawyers work.

The use of A.I in the legal sector will only be successful if law firms are willing embrace these new technologies and truly understand their potential. As a specialist legal recruiter I do not see A.I making a significant impact in the short-term, and I believe we still have some way to go before A.I becomes mainstream. However, new technologies are constantly being introduced and they will become faster, more cost effective and more readily available in time, allowing legal professionals to work more efficiently than ever before.

ROSS and other forms of A.I are becoming a key resource in legal offices across the country, but they do not have the ability to appear in court or argue a case – at least, not yet.

Artificial intelligence is an exciting development in the legal sector that will enable lawyers and supporting staff to interpret data and analyse information quickly and effectively. The Law Society has welcomed the advancements, suggesting future collaboration between legal professionals and A.I systems here in the UK – I personally can see a real benefit in firms adapting with technology, but I do not think machines could ever replace the empathetic nature of human beings.

Sellick Partnership are market leaders in the provision of locum, temporary, contract and permanent legal professionals within private practice, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

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