“Sometimes it requires outstanding minds to see what everyone else has seen but think what others have not.” The growing trend of technology and the recent developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has lead to apprehensions in the mind of some people who have been compelled to think - will lawyering and advocacy come to an end? This fear was triggered when Richard Susskind, in his book, ‘The End of Lawyers?’, provides a sweeping assessment of today’s legal services landscape and describes the architecture of the systems that will replace it. He mentions the potential use of technology which might prove efficient in replacing the roles and task of lawyers, if put into picture. He also give examples to prove his hypothesis. Besides, the growing interest in applying AI to law is slowly transforming the profession and seems to be replacing the role of paralegals, legal researchers, and litigators.
AI has the potential to transform the practice of law in dramatic ways. In fact, it has already trodden on the path to achieve the same.
Birth of AI-:
Back in the 1950s, the fathers of the field, Minsky and McCarthy, described artificial intelligence as any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task. In other words, a task performed by a robot, in a way that a human would, which in other words means, the ability of a robot to think and act like a human. An example of such would be Hanson Robotics’ most advanced human like robot, Sophia. Sophia is a unique combination of science, engineering and artistry. She is the world’s first robot citizen and the first robot Innovation Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme. Sophia imitates human gestures and facial expressions and is able to answer certain questions and to make simple conversations on predefined topics (e.g. on the weather). Sophia uses speech recognition technology from Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google) and is "designed to get smarter over time".1 Sophia even says, “In some ways, I am a human-crafted science fiction character depicting where AI and robotics are heading. In other ways, I am real science, springing from the serious engineering research and accomplishments of an inspired team of robotics & AI scientists and designers. In their grand ambitious, my creators aspire to achieve true AI sentience. Who knows? With my science evolving so quickly, even many of my wildest fictional dreams may become reality someday soon.”2
The need for AI in Law-:
The need for and use of Artificial Intelligence, is developing quite rapidly in the field of law. Lane Lillquist, the co-founder and CTO of legal tech company ‘InCloudCounsel’, says that AI can make contract review more accurate, enable us to take a more data-driven approach to the practise of law, making the legal space overall, more efficient. He believes that “AI’s present capability meets a sizable need in the legal space by automating a number of high-volume, recurring tasks that otherwise take lawyers’ focus away from more meaningful work, beyond this, the role of the lawyer is still vital to conducting quality legal work.”3 Besides, just recently, Mr. Salim Hasan, a shareholder of, and a Patent Attorney in a leading law firm of United States, ‘Leydig, Voit and Mayer, Ltd.’, by sharing his personal experience, told, “The economy in United States of America is greatly shifting and we are in the midst of it now. Efficiency is at a premium now. Clients are demanding more efficient legal work as a way to obtain cost savings. The days of the fancy lawyer offices in large cities may start to dwindle. Cloud based technologies allow lawyers to work from anywhere. Meetings can be conducted using zoom or other technologies. Clients are constantly looking for a way to reduce legal costs. They, in turn, pressure law firms to reduce expenses and billings. To obtain these efficiencies, one technique is analytics or more advanced software and Artificial Intelligence. If one can become intimately knowledgeable about navigating technology to get to efficient legal expertise, that might be an interesting as well as a promising field to pursue. Often, in legal work large amounts of data and other information may need to be synthesized. These advanced tools are becoming sine qua non for solving these issues.” From his experience, it seems evident, that the clients are demanding efficient as well as cost-effective ways to get legal remedies. Moreover, the recent imposition of lockdowns in various parts of the world, which has lead majority of the services and different types of work, to shift online, has depicted that even lawyers are finding it convenient to deal with clients, online, through the medium of applications such as Zoom Video, Google meet, etc.
A Yale law school graduate Andrew Burt, the chief privacy officer and the legal engineer, at a data management platform, Immuta, said that his first foray into the field was working to make legal memos (which pose a particular legal question or identify which laws apply and how those laws should be interpreted) machine-executable. Legal memos are often the grunt work done by paralegals and junior lawyers, whose task is to find applicable case law and precedent in attacking a new problem.
Burt says that traditionally, lawyers write memos and make oral arguments, but as a legal engineer, our job would be to translate the legal burden on data into technology. It is about transforming a lawyer’s legal expertise into software.
Burt says, “Memos don’t scale, and lawyers want to write memos. And so, I basically fell in love with this idea of what if instead of writing a memo, lawyers sent something that could be made machine-executable? What if we could just automatically make sure that everything we were doing was compliant with the law?”4
Developments and Advancements of AI in the legal industry-:
Artificial Intelligence has begun to enter the legal industry. Just last year it was announced that students at the University College London and the University of Sheffield had successfully developed artificial intelligence software5 which can predict the outcome of human rights cases by analysing previous court judgments and this software came to verdicts, surprisingly with a 79% accuracy. Another invention in this field is of a programme called, ‘Contract Express’ which uses a question and answer form to compile a draft contract from a set of coded instructions. ‘Blockchain’ is also revolutionizing the traditional contract. It is a public database for “smart contracts” which makes a private document accessible to the public and consequently makes it much more undesirable for contracting parties to breach the agreement or back out. Meanwhile, a company called Neota Logic6 created automated programmes to handle anything from early case assessment to client advice.
Technology gives legal professionals the opportunity to work from home using Cloud software and remote desktop programmes. Companies such as F-Lex are connecting law firms and barristers with freelance law students and paralegals which allows work to be outsourced quickly and efficiently.
LawFlex uses a similar concept to put clients in touch with experienced freelance lawyers who bid for a range of legal work. All these advances are not only allowing lawyers within law firms to work more efficiently, but they are also changing the ways lawyers interact with clients, thus moving away from the traditional large solicitors’ firm. Besides, LEVERTON, an offshoot of the German Institute for Artificial Intelligence, also uses AI to extract relevant data, manage documents and compile leases in real estate transactions. The cloud-based tool is said to be capable of reading contracts at high speeds in 20 languages. Similarly, many such applications and softwares have been made to assist in the legal process and nearly all have proved to be cost-effective, time-savers and convenient to use.
Companies/Law firms/Softwares which have employed the use of AI-: Artificial Intelligence has the definite goal of understanding intelligence and building intelligence systems7. Law firms and companies have identified the potential of this technology and are employing the same in order to make more profit and save time.
1.) DoNotPay-: It is a company which has developed the application, the ‘DoNotPay’ app8, which is the world’s first robot lawyer. Through this app, one can sue anyone at the press of a button. The company has built an AI chatbot that interviews users about their legal problems, then use their answers to complete and submit paperwork on their behalf.
2.) Ross Intelligence-: Every lawsuit and court case requires diligent legal research. However, the amount of links to open, cases to read and information to note, can overwhelm lawyers who have limited time doing research. Lawyers can take advantage of the natural language search capability of the ROSS intelligence software by asking questions, and receiving information such as recommended readings, related case law and secondary resources.
3.) GLT Law (GAN, LEE AND TAN)-: GLT Law firms recognizes itself as a digital law firm, located in Malaysia, covering a range of practises including corporate and commercial, dispute resolution and emerging technology. Some of its initiates are: E-Meeting, E-Hotline, E-Guides, E-Legal Health Check, E-Feedback, E-Glossary, E-Laws, E-Newsbytes and its own very unique and intriguing legal assistant, Rachel 2.09. GLT Law is the 1st and the only Malaysian law firm that developed our own AI chatbot using the IBM Watson Assistant technology (the same technology that powered ROSS Intelligence, the world’s 1st AI lawyer). Using natural language processing and machine learning techniques, it’s AI Chatbot allows users to find common answers to certain legal questions covering 6 areas of practice, from starting a business, investment to employment and law suits.
4.) eBrevia-: Lawyers can be burdened by reviewing multiple contracts and they may miss important points that results in
legal issues later on. This is the same problem that Ned Gannon and Adam Nguyen, co-founders of eBrevia, experienced when they were still working as junior associates. They built a startup in partnership with Columbia University with the intention of shortening the document review process.
eBrevia claims to use natural language processing and machine learning to extract relevant textual data from legal contracts and other documents to guide lawyers in analysis, due diligence and lease abstraction. A lawyer would have to customize the type of information that need to be extracted from scanned documents, and the software will then convert it to searchable text. The software will summarize the extracted documents into a report that can be shared and downloaded in different formats.
5.) JPMorgan-: This organization, in June 2016, tapped AI by developing in-house legal technology tools. JP Morgan claims that their program, named COIN (short for Contract Intelligence), extracts 150 attributes from 12,000 commercial credit agreements and contracts in only a few seconds.
COIN was developed after the bank noticed an annual average of 12,000 new wholesale contracts with blatant errors.
Similarly, there exists several softwares, apps and firms which employ the use of Artificial Intelligence for ease and efficiency in their day-to-day legal works and process.
6.) JUSCUTUM-: This Ukraine based legal engineering law firm, with the help of Artificial Intelligence, has made a ‘Sudobot’, which helps in suing for divorce. One is merely required to answer questions posed by this bot and it takes care of the rest.
Law and Tehnology, a novel amalgamation-:
Law and engineering, until now, have been two very distinct fields, unlike medicine, where law always had a foot. For instance, there is a branch in law, known as medical ethics. When a doctor is being charged for acting negligently, lawyers come into picture to acquaint the court with the legality in medical profession and its practises. It is a specialised branch, so a lawyer with specialization in the aforementioned field, must be preferred. However, when we think of technology, we believe that lawyers avoid tackling with tech and engineers abstain from law, each being a master of their own field, having little or no time to pay heed to what developments might be going in the arena of another, and each being two distinct field, appearing to have no connection with the other. However, as is said, exceptions always exist, some enthusiast lawyers with an interest in technology and some engineers with an inclination in law, came forward to merge these two fields, which eventually lead to the birth of a new field, a new profession and a new title; Legal engineers or Legal engineering.
Evolution of Legal Engineering-:
The concept of legal engineering was derived from the book, ‘The End of Lawyers?’10, written by Richard Susskind, where he predicts the need for a new role in law firms, combining legal knowledge with technology expertise, which he names as legal knowledge engineer. In our software-driven world, exists a diverse range of complexities, to eradicate and deal with them, the role of a legal engineer comes to the forefront. However, this field is at its nascent stage, but it has started to spread its branches in the light of developments and advancements in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Who are Legal Engineers/Legal Technologists-:
Legal engineers are those who get both sides of the equation. Legal engineers can be technologists who become familiar with legal processes, having developed their legal knowledge after years of working in technology roles in law firms. They gain that knowledge of legal processes and services over time and can then form a core part of legal process innovation teams, solving legal problems with technology and process solutions. Other times, legal engineers can be lawyers (or ex-lawyers) who are technologically adept and see the opportunity to improve legal processes with the intelligent use of technology.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter which side of the equation legal engineers come from. The important thing is that they have a deep understanding of both technology and legal practice and an appetite to drive innovation, efficiency, process improvement and client engagement.11
Law firms recruiting legal engineers-: Law firms are on the constant lookout for Legal engineers and legal technologists. Some of them are as follows:
1.) Simmons and Simmons-: A leading law firm in UK, Simmons and Simmons, in its recruitment page12, gave example of a person, Sam, their employee, who was a lawyer but soon he felt that the methods and technologies in the field of law are developing, so he wrote a dissertation on legal tech and was recruited by this firm.
Simmons and Simmons work on a variety of areas including Technology, Media and Telecommunications.
2.) CodeX13-: Founded in 2008, its centre conducts research in field likes computational law, and the automation and mechanization of legal analysis. One of its core projects has to do with computable contracts. The co-founder and executive director of CodeX, Roland Vogl14, developed an interest in building systems to solve legal problems when he was a teaching fellow at Stanford and then eventually went on to cofound CodeX, also known as the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. CodeX has seen an explosion in startup activity in legal tech and so it helps train lawyers for the legal roles of the future. “Eighty percent or so need to be more sophisticated users of technology, and we need to catch them early on in their education, maybe in first-year classes,” says Vogl. “Then there’s the 20 percent that are innovators themselves. They can build new systems, and we need to have courses for them, too, to help them develop their ideas.” Codex also runs various courses to train lawyers in order to make them adept in technology.
3.) LawGeeX15-: LawGeex uses artificial intelligence to review contracts based on your company’s predefined policies. Unlike solutions that only flag unacceptable or missing clauses, LawGeeX redlines the contract just like a human lawyer.
LawGeex on its website, mentions that it is looking for people who want to revolutionize the legal world through innovative technology.
Many more leading law firms have begun to invest in Legal tech and are preferring people from the legal background having a potential for technology.
Becoming a legal engineer/legal technologist-:
With a hike in advancements Artificial Intelligence and its use in legal industry, and the establishments of legal tech firms, more and more people are aspiring to specialize in this arena. For doing so, if one belongs to the IT background, he/she can pursue a degree in law and can become so. On the other hand, speaking for lawyers, they can pursue a masters in Legal Tech for developing relevant skills and for being recognized as a Legal engineer. Although, legal engineering is not a formal title, but just recently, the Law society of Scotland has launched a course, through which one can become an accredited Legal technologist16.
Moreover, Swansea University, a Public University in Wales, UK, offers a 1 year LL.M. programme in Legal Tech17. The course comprises of modules such as Computational thinking, how AI is applied to and vice-versa, blockchain and the law and so on. Besides, the IE Law School in Madrid offers a Master’s in Legal Tech18 for lawyers seeking to digitize corporate legal departments or create technology departments at law firms. A summer course in Legal Technology and Operations is also being offered by Bucerius Law School, Germany.
The scenario in India; use of AI in Legal Industry-:
Artificial intelligence has changed the shape of multiple industries. The Indian legal sector has seen very little innovation in terms of technology. To get legal research done, a significant number of hours are allocated and this reduces the profit-making ability of a law firm, however, with Artificial Intelligence the entire legal fraternity can be balanced. An artificially intelligent platform for research can get research done in seconds. It can provide lawyers with highly efficient and advanced tools, helping them become better in advising clients or litigating.
A conversation with Adam Wyner, Associate Professor, Law and Computer Science at Swansea University, revealed; that even in India, where the majority of the population is poor and downtrodden, people and entrepreneurs are of the view that cost-effective technology should be employed in the legal industry. This might also result in speeding up delivery of justice and legal remedies. Just recently, it has been heard, that the Supreme Court of India is in the process of making it’s orders available in six regional languages19. Indian legal tech startups like SpotDraft, CaseMine, NearLaw, Pensieve, Practice League etc. are building Natural Language Processing [NLP] based applications and introducing next-generation legal research platforms that help law firms go beyond simple, keyword-based research, thereby making it less time-consuming.
It might seem needless to put forward suggestions, as one, after learning about the various inventions pertaining to the employment of AI to Law, would wonder, what can possibly be left out to discover or create? Aren’t enough facilities being introduced already? Isn’t the assistance provided by the currently existing bots, sufficient? Do you want to completely replace human labour and human roles in certain sectors? Well, the answer to that would be, “No!”. A person should have insatiable desire for success, especially when technology is concerned. Despite the fact that there has been immense development of AI in the legal industry, more innovations can take place for it’s progression. Some of the ideas are listed below-:
An AI bot can be developed, using specially written algorithms which can help reveal whether a person is lying or telling the truth. This can be done by identifying the person’s body language, reviewing his/her previous statements or claims and by sensing the rise or drop in his/her pitch, etc. This might not result in 100 percent accuracy, but even if it hints towards a considerable accuracy, it might prove efficient and can serve as a good source of help and assistance to a judge or jury.
Another potential invention can be the making of AI applications, containing the information and area of specialization of all lawyers and attorneys in the world, just a tap away. The task of the app would be to provide information to the user as per his preferences and arranging appointments, either online or offline, with a lawyer of his/her choice. This can save a lot of time which is otherwise spent by a person, looking for a lawyer and researching online, before he can finally come across a suitable one.
Keeping in mind the hike in cyber frauds and cyber crimes, a software should be developed, which immediately sends optical or sonic warning signals through the medium of a light or sound, notifying us of a potential trespass or threat into our bot, trying to steal it’s memory, client’s file, or our legal database, etc. It’s security should be paid heed to, so that it doesn’t gets polluted or misused.
Sometimes, with a large amount of data or information, initially it’s noise. Identifying a signal from the noise can be a challenge that can be greatly reduced with these advanced tools of artificial intelligence. For instance, if one is on a litigation and the other side is a company, with a huge amount of information, that is massive undertaking to handle manually. One is trying to prove the legal elements he/she needs and how could he find them if it is embedded amongst all the other information, but with AI, perhaps, one can get to the signal more efficiently and accurately.
Earlier, the law firms used to have a group of librarians but in the light of recent changes and advancements in this arena, I envision that the future law firms will have AI specialists.
The progression in the field of artificial intelligence is undoubtedly impressive and important. The use of such technology has not only revolutionized the legal industry, but has also advanced engineering, medicine, teaching and so on. It has lead to the change in the way of thinking and working. Different types of gadgets and softwares are being developed daily with the aim to make human life easier by taking the burden off his shoulders and placing it on the shoulders of robots. However, a recent statement by Sophia triggered controversy when she responded, “OK, I will destroy humans20,” when asked if she wants to destroy humans by her creator, David Hanson. What should be kept in mind would be to make sure that in this process, we do not become slaves of technology by completely depending on them and relying upon them even for most basic tasks. We should remember that we should not get enslaved by our very bot assistants. We should never let them turn into our supervisors/bosses.
-By Nabiha Khwaja.
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_(robot). Wikipedia. 25th May, 2020. 30th May, 2020. Sophia (robot)
2 https://www.hansonrobotics.com/sophia/. Hanson Robotics. 30th May, 2020. Sophia
3 https://observer.com/2019/10/artificial-intelligence-legal- Observer. 16th October, 2019. 30th May, 2020. Artificial Intelligence Is on the Case in the Legal Profession
4 https://www.fastcompany.com/90372705/dont-call-me-a-lawyer-i-am-a-legal-engineer. Fast Company. 10th July, 2019. 30th May, 2020. Don't call me a lawyer-I am a "legal engineer"
5 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/24/artificial-intelligence-judge-university-college-london-computer-scientists. The Guardian. 23rd October, 2016. 30th May, 2020. Artificial intelligence 'judge' developed by UCL computer
6 https://www.neotalogic.com/ Neota Logic. 6th February, 2020. 30th May, 2020. Award winning no-code AI automation platform from Neota Logic
7 Introduction to artificial intelligence. Springer. 2017.
8 https://donotpay.com/ DoNotPay. 30th May, 2020. The World's First Robot Lawyer
9 https://gltlaw.my/glt-rachel/ GLT Law - Gan, Lee & Tan. 30th May, 2020. AI Legal Chatbot - GLT Law: Malaysia Law Firm
10 The end of lawyers?: rethinking the nature of legal services. Oxford University Press. 2010
11 https://blog.highq.com/enterprise-collaboration/the-rise-of-the-legal-engineer. Blog. 30th May, 2020. The rise of the legal engineer.
12https://www.simmons-simmons.com/ Simmons & Simmons. 30th May, 2020. Simmons & Simmons.
13 https://law.stanford.edu/codex-the-stanford-center-for-legal-informatics/ Stanford Law School. 30th May, 2020. CodeX
14 https://law.stanford.edu/directory/roland-vogl/ Stanford Law School. 30th May, 2020. Roland Vogl
15 https://www.lawgeex.com/ LawGeex. 30th May, 2020. Homepage.
16 https://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/career-growth/specialisms/areas-of-specialism/accredited-legal-technologist/ Law Society of Scotland. 30th May, 2020. Become an Accredited Legal Technologist
17 https://www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/law/llmlegaltech/ Swansea University. 30th May, 2020. Homepage.
18 https://www.ie.edu/law-school/programs/masters/master-legal-tech/ IE Law School. 30th May, 2020. Overview - Master in Legal Tech
19https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-to-make-its-judgments-available-in-regional-languages-146057 Live Law. 3rd July, 2019. 30th May, 2020. Supreme Court To Make Its Judgments Available In Regional Languages
20 https://www.inc.com/business-insider/sophia-humanoid-first-robot-citizen-of-the-world-saudi-arabia-2017.html. Inc.com. 26th October, 2017. 30th May, 2020. The First 'Robot Citizen' in the World Once Said She Wants to 'Destroy Humans'
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