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Robo-Lawyers taking over? Not Quite

With the advances on technology we’ve gone through these last two decades things have changed and will keep changing in the future – one the instigators of this change is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

They’re still not sentient, we’re still safe.

AI has seen quite an advancement in a lot of sectors – automation aims to have less human assistance to fulfil the same tasks, as with automation with vehicles.
Car manufacturers such as Tesla are already using Autopilot technologies to assist human drivers with day-to-day tasks and to run diagnostics on and even repair their cars. Others such as Waymo are equally working towards making vehicles that are self-driving with no human interaction.

The field of Law is however an altogether different kettle of fish.

Today, we see assisting AI that are wrongfully called Robo-Lawyers – while it’s true that there are some tools such as DoNotPay which aim to servethe public, they are nonetheless rooted in case-law made by humans. Solicitors and Barristers also work with vendors such as iManage or NetDocuments which use ‘AI’. This is in fact Machine Learning and Automation. We cannnot replace a good old flesh-and-blood Lawyer just yet – perhaps never.

Thus, the term “robo-lawyer” doesn’t fully capture a complete Artificially Intelligent system that can thoroughly act on a matter: it can analyse data, sort files and information, yes, but as with the medical profession upholding the laws of the land are simply too human to be left to a bare-metal server.

Solicitors and Barristers are not out of a job yet, nor do we think they will be in the near or far future.

Justice is an inherently ‘human’ concept

Artificial Intelligence is a very broad term, well explored by a Lords Committee on the subject. The APPG on AI would likely agree with us at Hayachi Services – that rules and laws have been present in human societies for a very long time indeed.

So what will AI change: Can machines learn faster than humans for example? Not really, no. Machines can process some kinds of information faster than humans, but the human mind is still the most powerful information processing system on this planet. Perhaps Bio-Computers may one day match a Solicitor’s years of expertise or a Barrister’s way with words, but because law is as organic as the fabric of our culture it is doubtful that machines will ever ‘lead-the-field’.

What we consider ‘AI’ today is actually Machine Learning, a very complicated way of saying that we train the computer to run a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ exercise and to detect patterns in line with the variables we humans have set. Indeed a lot of engineering and expertise goes into such an exercise, and it can greatly assist work in the field of Law (such the Lexis Nexis Precedent Database) – but it is what it is.

We will always prefer a real lawyer to an robo-lawyer, what about you?

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