Will AI replace lawyers? Assessing the potential of artificial intelligence in legal services.

Certain parts of this article was written by Tim Watkins for Computer weekly.

The Original article can be found via: https://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Will-AI-replace-lawyers-Assessing-the-potential-of-artificial-intelligence-in-legal-services

It is obvious that lawyers do not expect AI to replace them, however the potential for the technology in law and other professional services must not be underestimated. 

A US study conducted in 2018 pitted 20 reputable corporate lawyers against an AI in an error-spotting test across a suite of non-disclosure agreements. The results were measured by time and accuracy.  

The human lawyers achieved an average accuracy of 85%, in an average time of 92 minutes. In comparison, The AI’s success rate was seen to be at 92% – at an average time of 26 seconds.  

However, to suggest that this symbolises the end of human lawyers is an overstatement. However, several interesting questions do arise as a result. Are lawyers ultimately replaceable and if so to what extent?  

Issue-spotting in an NDA is wholly different from the tactical strategizing involved in a complex litigation case, or from the cross-table negotiation of any contract. Such expertise derives from skills honed through practice, as much as knowledge learned. 

It is easy to see where generic advances in AI could help the entire profession. For example, all lawyers are required, before onboarding a new client, to verify the client’s identity.  

For non-corporate clients at least, advances in facial recognition technology could perhaps save on the need for potentially forgeable documents being collected. 

The courts and justice system is an area where sophisticated AI could assist lawyers and judges in mining the wealth of historic precedent much more quickly and efficiently than human lawyers and researchers might do. Perhaps for smaller matters, fully online courts will not be too far away. 

And in corporate transactions, it is often a rite of passage for junior lawyers to spend hours trawling online data rooms, reviewing company documents, contracts and other information as part of due diligence. Speed-reading for issue-spotting based on particular words and phrases in material contracts should, as the abovementioned US study showed, achieve the two advantages of speed efficiency, and mitigation of human error. An AI reviewing dozens of commercial contracts would be less likely to experience boredom or fatigue, if nothing else. 

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