Is AI the new super lawyer?

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Is AI the new super lawyer?

Saturday, 20 July 2019 | Pulkit Mogra

Is AI the new super lawyer?

It is a known fact that like many other sectors, AI is transforming the legal sector, too. But human interference in legal matters will be a necessity because they require a complex combination of skills, empathy, judgement and trust

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer the same as we encountered half a decade ago. Its dynamics, scope and reach have evolved multitudes. Lawyers and the legal profession are no longer an untouched slice of this pie.

Recent studies conducted between 20 experienced and well-trained corporate lawyers from the US and AI software of a Tel Aviv based start up, LawGeex, were conducive to demonstrating the epitome of accuracy that AI has managed to evolve itself in reviewing contracts and spotting everyday issues.

LawGeex AI software’s accuracy was accounted for 94 per cent in 26 seconds, compared to an average of 85 per cent for lawyers with an average time of 92 minutes. With the pace of innovation now surpassing the limits of human capabilities, this has raised a few questions for HR departments and firms to develop new policies for staff training, layoff and designating tasks among other things.

In a sector where professional consultancy is being charged hourly or even in minutes, fitting AI into this business model can be a tedious task. Also, we have reached an interesting point where AI software pose a very definite threat to paralegals, who specialise on processing legal documentation. AI can do the same work faster and cheaper.

A report published by PwC in 2017 claimed that rising costs of legal services and the slow pace of litigation process are affecting the clients. Due to this, people are turning towards in-house lawyers. With an ever-rising graph of legal cases, law firms have started responding to this issue by switching to automation. This has been termed as the “2020: Decade of Disruption.”

A massive hue and cry has been raised in every sector about how AI technology will disrupt daily operations and careers of those who choose that profession. Though to an extent, this may prove to be correct, this disruption shall not be able to eradicate the breed of lawyers. Instead, it will evolve them into a legal tech expert, who can provide a fast-paced holistic solution to the clients.

For the AI software to function on an error-free pace, the quality of data and not the quantity of data is of importance. The quality of output gets directly proportional to the quality of data and this is where the role of an evolved lawyer will arise.

Such a growth of AI will bring holistic growth in the market as well where a lawyer may make the transition to becoming a data creator and a new venture idea of legal data stores may arise. False and inaccurate data may instead pose significant threats and challenges to AI software companies. They must, therefore, entertain complete, relevant and most accurate data to function and compete with human intelligence.  Therefore, for all law firms and in-house councils, this becomes a high negotiation point over assessing quality of data and that, too, in a continuous manner.

More importantly, AI’s work on algorithmic data sets and ones that are being developed by humans may be “biased.” In algorithmic development, this can become a vital issue because in order to produce an unbiased system of legal opinion, there is a requirement of fair algorithmic data set. How far this is possible is another question.

There is no doubt that the element of bias does exist in human intelligence as well, but the question of when and where to use that element needs to be kept in mind and this again brings in the need for human involvement. The practice of law is not limited to reviewing contracts and drafting of arguments or searching the best-suited case laws. It is a complex combination of skills, empathy, judgement and trust and, therefore, keeping a human in the loop becomes a necessity in the legal industry.

Is AI a new super lawyer? The nature of the legal field has always been based upon the boilerplate of social dimension and social values.  This cannot be fulfilled currently  unless there is a human interference until a point comes where emotions and social values, such as empathy, sympathy and so forth, are replaced.

Similar debates have also arisen in the automotive industry as to how a driverless car must decide upon its action in case of an accident or whom should an AI-based car choose upon from pedestrian to riders or animals. Further, what algorithmic sets must be taken into consideration that can quantify upon human worth? Until then, AI is the new super power that is creating options for practitioners of all industries, including legal, for catching up on the pace and excellence through a regulatory mechanism.

(The writer is pursuing International LLM at Tel Aviv University, Israel and specialises in AI technology and law)

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