Let’s consider this for a moment: lawyers being replaced by robots.
It sounds like a farfetched, sci-fi movie featuring advanced robotics bringing clients to court with analytical judges determining the fate of humanity.
However, as crazy as it may sound, will lawyers become obsolete with the growing trends in technology and communication?
Since the dawn of industrialization, there have been numerous revolutions in robotics technology that has freed up labors for the blue collar workers. From the view of human progress, this is the step in the right direction. However, as more and more people are losing jobs to robots, how will this affect the legal world?
Advancements in technology allows for information to be stored and retrieved in an easily accessible and systematized way. If artificial intelligence can be designed to extract evidence useful for litigations, to collect details for contracts, and trigger red flags whenever companies are committing fraud or other illegal activities, would this eliminate the number of lawyers needed in the world?
Automatization of Legal Work
Automatization is an ongoing development that allows for time efficiency and saving significant amounts of money. From a client’s point of view, if utilizing an online database, or “e-lawyer” to get accurate results, fast.
The early beginnings of technology designed to make a lawyer’s life easier started with chatbots. Technology from Ross and Lex Machina provide a chat lot system that makes setting up consultations simple for clients to do.
Another rising robot is called DoNotPay which was developed by Joshua Browder. This is a free parking ticket fighting chatbot that asks you a series of questions about your case. Questions like, “Were you illegally parked because of a medical emergency?” or “Were road signs clearly marked?”
At the end of the chat, the bot prepares a letter that can be used to fight parking tickets. So far, this system has been used to help hundreds of thousands of people to win parking ticket violations in Seattle, New York, and London.
What Areas of Law Could Be Most Affected
Technology is advancing at an extremely rapid pace. Each and every year a new highly developed superphone is being shoved into our pockets. If automatizing the lawyer process is the next step into the future, there may be some areas of law that will be impacted more than others.
The areas of law that once required many forms, contacts, and documents to be made may soon become obsolete. Things like business documents, contested filings, and estate planning documents, while performed by non-lawyers, are a part of the collective income of a law firm.
Currently, there are companies racing to innovate this area of law by creating efficient online services that can provide these documents in a single click.
Take for example LawGeex. They have developed an AI system that allows for the automation and approval of contracts. There focus is to eliminate paper work altogether.
Once, lawyers were required for their legal knowledge and careful selection of law like words. Now, AI machinery will be able to analyze text to review and understand the legal document.
What Are the Possibilities of Robolawyers?
These chatbots could be the beginning of a complete legal revolution. There could be dramatic changes to the way bankruptcy, divorce disputes, and deportation can be dealt with. Instead of using a lawyer to dispute the finer points of law, AI systems can be developed to analyze every possible situation and find the exceptions, loopholes and historical cases needed to win a case.
Essentially, an AI will have access to a whole database of legal language and the history of legal cases to make decisions. From this perspective, the argument of human error leading to mistakes in law can certainly be avoided.
Here’s a couple more examples of law being replaced with technological solutions.
Judicata which is developing a database that was just mentioned above. While it may not be a go to tool for people experiencing a legal issue, it’s an AI program that provides lawyers with a chance to extract the information they need to build a case or contract.
Another AI based law solution comes from FairDoc. FairDoc focused on creating a virtualized legal team allowing for intake of clients to be made online and even tracking your client activity. It’s another cost effective solution to reduce the amount of work that is typically demanded by lawyers.
How Can You Fight The Rise of Robots?
There’s no avoiding the rapid growth that technology has in the world. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
In this case, the some of the roboticized approaches to law may work in your favor. Since you are a lawyer with the knowledge and experience in the field, many of the time saving services that are reducing the amount of paperwork can still be performed through you.
When it comes to sensitive issues and human beings, going to see a lawyer will almost always be the preferred approach to dealing with a machine.
However, to assure yourself a job in the future to come, here’s a few things to consider:
- Approach new technology cautiously. Technology is often being tested and does come with some setbacks. While AI lawyers may seem like a smart solution, a single hack could leak a lot of sensitive information.
- Question what may be “replacing” you. Be skeptical. Not all technology may be the best for you, your law firm, or your clients.
- Accept changes. You can stick to traditional law practice, and perhaps you’ll be just fine, however finding a few new pieces of software that makes your law practice easier and more efficient may be in your best interest.
- Preserve your practice. Let’s face it, some parts of technology can be good, but outsourcing significant parts of your business with 3rd parties can become a liability. Your clients trust you. Therefore you have to make decisions as to whether the products and “robots” used in your practice can be trusted for the long term.
Likely there won’t be a terminator situation rising anytime soon for lawyers, however being up-to-date will help you stay ahead. One of the best things to is to embrace the coming changes but doing so with a hint of skepticism. To really succeed, bringing your law practice online may be the cutting edge you need to stay alive. Imagine having your own blog, you could be the leader in the transition from human based lawyers to AI law machines.