On February 17, 2017, CNBC released an article exclaiming, “Lawyers Could Be The Next Profession To Be Replaced By Computers.” Since then, bloggers, news organizations, and law organizations have delved into the science behind artificial intelligence (AI) to check out the credibility of that statement. Could lawyers be replaced by computers in the coming years?
The short answer? No.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence, at least as it applies to legal work, refers to computers learning how to perform tasks (usually analytical in nature) traditionally performed by humans. If you’ve ever asked Siri a question, received an automated response, or used a home assistant like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, you’ve used AI machines.
In the legal industry, AI has gained a lot of attention in recent months as the technology continues to cut down on the resources and time firms need in order to compile analytical data. Many studies and experiments have been done to test AI’s accuracy on predicting legal patterns and sorting through relevant data.
There are definite advantages to using AI to help with casework. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, artificial intelligence could be instrumental in helping lawyers tell their stories in court. AI uses pattern recognition, data analysis, and prediction algorithms to sort through large amounts of digital data in a fraction of the time it would take a team of paralegals, lawyers, and other legal professionals to sort through. The process of e-discovery and document review is already being cut in half for firms using advanced AI technology.
The less time a lawyer has to spend digging through research to find the right documentation, the more time that lawyer has to determine how that documentation can help them present a compelling story to a judge or jury.
Could AI eventually replace lawyers?
Above The Law, a national online resource for legal news, says it best: “AI is a tool. A tool that we can control.”
AI has the potential to transform how firms gather information and assemble cases, but they won’t be taking over the profession as a whole. While it is true that AI technology could potentially make some legal professions outdated (for example, low level employees whose sole job is to assist with the discovery process), smaller firms will be able to utilize AI as it becomes more readily available to assist with tasks that would otherwise take away from the amount of time lawyers could spend getting to know clients and preparing their case for trial.
Nothing will replace the value an experienced lawyer brings to a courtroom.
While studies have proven that AI is more reliable at predicting outcomes and determining the relevancy of certain documents, there is something very important that AI lacks: human emotion.
When we dive into a case, a case we truly believe in and know deserves justice, the way the case is presenting in court changes. We aren’t just presenting facts and data that are relevant, we’re telling a story. While AI can help give lawyers the elements of a story, the only way to truly craft a compelling story that tells the truth and moves a courtroom to see a new side to the case that was presented by the other side is by spending time with the client, learning their story and their circumstances, and using compassion to connect the client to the courtroom.
Computers don’t determine the outcomes of cases. People do.
At Cearley Law Firm, we believe that cases are won by hard work, experience, and trust established between a client and their lawyer. No matter how advanced AI gets at predicting outcomes or gathering data, no robot will ever be able to replace that.
Ambrogi, R. (2017, October 30). Fear Not, Lawyers, AI Is Not Your Enemy. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://abovethelaw.com/2017/10/fear-not-lawyers-ai-is-not-your-enemy/?rf=1
Mangan, D. (2017, February 17). Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/17/lawyers-could-be-replaced-by-artificial-intelligence.html
Sobowale, J. (2016, April). How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/how_artificial_intelligence_is_transforming_the_legal_profession