05.04.2023
Chloe Moorfoot

Chloe Moorfoot

Will AI replace lawyers in the future?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has certainly been a hot topic in recent months. Earlier this year there was a news story discussing the potential introduction of a ‘robot lawyer’ in a US court. Though the robot wasn’t used in the end, the story still highlighted the potential power of rising AI technology. Leading me to question, is the legal system ready for AI to play such a heavy role in court?

For years we have seen AI technology making its way into different industries and into our day-to-day lives. This technology has enabled greater productivity, simplified tasks, and allowed businesses to expand their services. But now when we consider the possibility of such intelligent technology which can formulate a response for a defendant, it forces us to consider what this could mean for the future of the legal system. FAL Lawyers ran a poll on LinkedIn asking; ‘Do you think an AI robot could really replace a human lawyer?’. 33% answered YES!

What is AI?

Before we jump to robots taking our jobs, let’s consider what this technology is and how it’s being used. AI takes shape in many forms, some simple examples in our day-to-day lives include,

  • Face ID: Unlocking your mobile with facial recognition relies on AI to identify your unique physical characteristics.
  • Smart Assistants: Millions of us now have voice-activated devices. These ‘assitants’ help us perform tasks such as playing music, booking appointments, setting alarms.
  • Email management: Email platforms use AI technology to automatically move emails into your ‘spam’ or ‘other’ folder.
  • Recommended items: E-commerce sites use AI technology to show you recently viewed and related products. This then generates personalised email campaigns, showing you only content you are interested in.

Within the legal system we are already seeing great benefits from the introduction of AI. Technological advancements have enabled better access to information, precedents, and legal discussion. Carrying out legal research and case analysis has been vastly improved thanks to AI tools. For example, E-Discovery tools help us analyse cases and retrieve information from a variety of digital sources, saving hours of time for legal teams. When reviewing contracts, we now rely on the assistance of AI tools to spot issues and errors quickly, mistakes that could be missed by human eyes and effectively identified in just a few clicks. The adoption of AI has enabled greater access to legal advice to individuals thorough digital resources and automated legal assistants.

What about the use of AI to form live responses?

AI technology is becoming more and more intelligent each year. We are seeing the increased use of tools such as ChatGPT which can formulate responses to complex questions. Not only does the tool provide instant responses, but it has also been trained to provide human-like responses. However, the tool comes with its limitations. Users have found that ChatGPT gives inaccurate responses at times as it tries to provide responses which a ‘feel right to humans’, so an answer may be look correct but the information can be inaccurate (Search Engine Journal).

Even still, it’s incredibly powerful. The tool can write code, poems, songs, or even short stories in a style to mimic that of a human author. We actually tested an AI tool at FAL to draft an article, and it did a fairly good job. This leads to the much bigger concern of humans taking ownership of work created by a bot. How do we distinguish original work if the author has simply input questions to a tool?

Read our article ‘Understanding ChatGPT’ to learn more about this tool and its limitations.

Why are people worried about AI ‘taking our jobs’?

The use of AI is fantastic when we consider routine tasks, but now that the technology is moving into more advanced work, even offering live legal responses in court, we must consider how this impacts the legal system. Our legal system is not designed by innovation, it’s based on historical interpretation and decisions, it’s this context which AI technology lacks. Human moral authority and emotional intelligence cannot be replicated. It’s also important to account for the limitations and biases of AI due to complete reliance on the data inputted. For example, these tools cannot account for unforeseen circumstances.

So, will AI replace lawyers in the future?

There is certainly a place for AI to be used as a tool for lawyers to have better access to information, precedents, and legal discussion. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, we need to get more comfortable in using it. It’s important that we understanding how it works and how it can support us in practicing law and advising clients. However, I do not think it can replace the human element of legal advice and the nuances that need to be understood to provide the correct advice.

Follow the FAL Lawyers’ AI series to learn about developments, limitations, legal considerations, and more. Through this series we aim to drive discussion around the future of this technology.

 

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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