The idea of robots replacing human lawyers is not a new one, and recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have only intensified this debate. In March 2021, a New York Times article titled "Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software" warned the legal community that computers could soon replace many attorneys in discovery work because of their ability to recognise important words and phrases. Times technology writer John Markoff wrote about how computers were replacing many attorneys in discovery work because of their ability to recognise important words and phrases.
This article will explore the history of AI in the legal industry, the possibility of robots replacing human lawyers, and the limitations of AI in the legal field.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Game Changers
The Wikipedia page “History of Artificial Intelligence” spans from mythical narratives to philosophical musings and from basic automated systems to advanced expert systems and machine learning. AI is demonstrating its goal of replacing human intellect in legal systems with artificial attorneys like robots. Robot lawyers are artificially intelligent computer programs that automatically give legal advice and do routine legal work. They can interpret legal queries and provide answers that comply with the law thanks to AI and natural language processing (NLP).
While announcing their partnership with Harvey, Allen & Overy’s Head of the Markets Innovation Group, David Wakeling stated, “I have been at the forefront of legal tech for 15 years but I have never seen anything like Harvey. It is a game-changer that can unleash the power of generative AI to transform the legal industry. Harvey can work in multiple languages and across diverse practice areas, delivering unprecedented efficiency and intelligence. In our trial, we saw some amazing results.
Robot Lawyers: Future or Fiction?
In 2015, Joshua Browder (CEO of DoNotPay) established the first robot lawyer in California to eventually replace all attorneys. However, many experts believe that while AI will automate some of the more mundane tasks that attorneys must do, it is unlikely to replace humans in the courtroom for several reasons, including the fact that legislation is inherently a human endeavour.
University of Virginia law professor Michael Livermore argues that attorneys will have more time on their hands to devote to other endeavours as AI automates mundane tasks. As increasingly advanced AI capabilities become available, the role of attorneys will shift, but they will never go away entirely.
Shaibu Mwangolo's article "Artificial Lawyers: A Myth or Reality of Our Future?" explores the significant impact of technology on the legal profession. The article acknowledges that advancements such as the internet, email, and legal research databases like Westlaw and Lexis have already transformed the industry. However, there is another perspective that suggests we are on the verge of a more substantial change. Machine learning applications are poised to replace lawyers, disrupting the traditional monopoly of the legal industry and offering innovative solutions to address the access to justice gap.
Don't Disregard AI in Law
The primary reason why AI cannot replace expert lawyers is not that AI is incapable of doing so, but rather that there is nowhere for machine learning AIs to access the data, information, outcomes, complexities, associated documents, and all of the deliverables and activities that take place on this matter. The infrastructure to collect and store the vast body of expert legal information necessary to develop an AI in this field is lacking, and the information is confidential and off-limits to the public.
A March 2021 article titled Will AI Replace Lawyers & Other Myths: Legal AI Mythbusters by JD Supra, summarises that legal professionals should not disregard AI in the law. Attorneys who use legal AI will eventually replace those who don't because of the revolutionary technology's enhanced efficiency and productivity. In the far future, legal technology may replace attorneys. It is more probable that attorneys will be able to conduct their work more effectively and precisely with the help of legal technology.
There is a wide range of legal issues for which we are likely to require the services of expert lawyers on an ongoing basis. These individuals must be exceptionally sharp minds, able to sort through the weeds, devise novel solutions to old problems, and manage difficult commercial changes within organisations. It will be exceedingly challenging for AI to find a suitable replacement for those individuals.
Automation vs. Expertise
In conclusion, the idea of having artificial lawyers in the future seems more certain and should not be treated as a myth, though it may sound strange because advancement in AI is dynamic and scientists continue to pay more attention to their inventions and advancement models in technology. AI will automate some of the more mundane tasks that attorneys must do, but it is unlikely to replace humans in the courtroom for several reasons. Legal professionals should not disregard AI in the law, as attorneys who use legal AI will eventually replace those who don't. However, there is a wide range of legal issues for which we are likely to require the services of expert lawyers on an ongoing basis. These individuals must be exceptionally sharp minds, able to sort through the weeds, devise novel solutions to old problems, and manage difficult commercial changes within organisations. It will be exceedingly challenging for AI to find a suitable replacement for those individuals.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Novum Learning or Legal Practice Intelligence (LPI). While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information in this article has been obtained from reliable sources, neither Novum Learning or LPI nor the author is responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information, as the content published here is for information purposes only. The article does not constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto and does not constitute professional and/or financial advice.