top of page
  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

The future of the legal field, within the emergence of AI

By Humairaah Patel

This article aims to explore how the emergence of AI, has led to changes in the provision of legal services. It discusses how AI has reduced the need for services that were traditionally sought out from lawyers and aims to explore the future impacts these changes will have, on the legal system, and lawyers themselves.

Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.[1] AI plays a huge role in our lives and is utilized through many things on a day to day basis. Some of the most potent examples include face ID, the use of smart assistants such as Siri and Alexa, and even navigation apps.

This wide range simply demonstrates how many areas of our life is dominated by AI. However, it doesn’t stop here. AI has continually demonstrated how it can do things quicker, better and more conveniently for humans, and the legal field has made use of this, examples of which will be explored here.

Marwaha has recognized many of the benefits of AI for law firms and the legal field, for example, the ability of AI to review documents for relevant information.[2] This has significantly reduced the time taken up by lawyers, allowing them to devote their time to other more mentally challenging tasks, such as looking for things which are otherwise undiscoverable things, or implied. Additionally, AI can analyze documents to identify errors which otherwise may not be picked up by humans.[3] This again saves time and allows lawyers to devote more time to other tasks which require the critical thinking of the human mind. Additionally, AI can assist with the management of documents.

In 2017, JP Morgan utilized an AI program called COIN which interpreted commercial loan agreements. This previously took up 360,000 hours of lawyers’ time annually,[4] but could now be done within seconds with minimal errors. These examples above are just a few situations, in which AI has benefited those in the legal field, by reducing working time on mind-numbing tasks and the possibility of error.

As we have seen, the impact of AI on the law is extensive, and will only further grow to dominate the legal field, along with many other areas which were traditionally undertaken by professionals due to their expertise. This then leaves us with the question: what does this mean for the legal world? If an AI can advise on outcomes while displaying the arguments and justification process,[5] as demonstrated by researchers at the University of Liverpool, what then remains the roles for lawyers who conduct this legal research, and judges, who spend their time justifying their decisions. This further leads us to question the impact this will have on law firms in the future, and whether entering into the legal field will be made more difficult than before.

With many tasks now being able to be completed within seconds, it is likely the ability for AI to do this will only be further refined. This leads us to the possible suggestion that in many cases, solicitors won’t be sought out.[6] This may also have an impact on law firms, affecting their recruitment process, and how many lawyers will be taken in each year if there is the possibility that their jobs can be done faster by AI; with no limitation of employment laws. Additionally, this may change the form of recruitment of law firms who may look for candidates who can present skills associated with AI.[7]

As we can see, soon AI will be reorganizing the legal world. However, this does not detonate the use of solicitors, barristers and judges and many more in the legal field. It simply allows tasks that were in some cases easy, time-consuming and thus costly, to be taken up by AI. This allows those people to devote more time to tasks, which require things such as empathetic thinking.[8] This is something that AI has not mastered yet. Additionally, the benefits of AI can be recognized by those who benefit from legal services, bringing down their costs.

To conclude, we have seen the effects AI has had on the legal world, and how it will only continue to dominate this area. However, it is without a doubt that the need for real legal practitioners still exists, to display qualities that AI simply cannot, such as empathy, and the ability to find undiscoverable information through documents and evidence.


 

[1] 'What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?' (Ibm.com, 2020) <https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/cloud/learn/what-is-artificial-intelligence> accessed 18 January 2022.


[2] 'American Bar Association' (Americanbar.org, 2017) <https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/publications/youraba/2017/september-2017/7-ways-artificial-intelligence-can-benefit-your-law-firm/> accessed 18 January 2022.


[3] ibid


[4] Hugh Son, 'Jpmorgan Software Does In Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours' The Independent (2017) <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/jp-morgan-software-lawyers-coin-contract-intelligence-parsing-financial-deals-seconds-legal-working-hours-360000-a7603256.html> accessed 18 January 2022.


[5] Katie Atkinson, 'AI Can Spur Real Change In The Legal Sector' (New Statesman, 2020) <https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/2020/09/ai-can-spur-real-change-in-the-legal-sector> accessed 18 January 2022.


[6] Anthony E. Davis, 'The Future Of Law Firms (And Lawyers) In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence' (2020) 16 Revista Direito GV.)


[7] R Parnham, M Sako, and J Armour, (2021). AI-assisted lawtech: its impact on law firms. Oxford: University of Oxford. December 2021.


[8] Ibid












57 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Eco-fascism: The dark side to environmentalism

By Holly Downes A discussion on the unspoken dangers associated with a minority of environmentalists who blame the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration and over industrialization.

The Ethics of Presumed Consent in Organ Donation

By Malak Tamer Consent to organ donation in England was transformed by the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019 (ODDCA 2019).[1] Prior to the Act, individuals were required to ‘opt-in’ and registe

Comments


bottom of page