Artificial Intelligence & Law - A Partnership or A Threat

Dr. Purvi Pokhariyal, Director & Dean, Institute of Law - Nirma UniversityHolding a Ph.D in Constitutionl Law from the M.S. University, Baroda Department of Law, Dr. Purvi has been in the industry for 19 years now, and specializes in Criminal Justice Studies, Family Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law areas.

Whenever technology evolves, it disrupts the old ways and leads to agitation amongst people. This unrest stems from the ambiguity that originates with new technology and the many questions that are left unanswered. At present, if there is one technological advancement that is being embraced by businesses, it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning. Thereby, leading individuals to be fearful of this new technology largely due to a lack of understanding and awareness of how Artificial Intelligence works.

So far, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon were spearheading AI applications and technologies. However, in recent times, there have been developments in Artificial Intelligence in various other sectors including the field of law. The legal industry is one that for thousands of years has accepted that trust, persistence, and good judgement are the way towards justice. Therefore, the notion of Artificial Intelligence ‘displacing’ lawyers comes across less like assistance and more like a threat.

The threat looks more genuine when you consider that the world is driving forward at a surprisingly fast pace; building pressure to be faster, cleverer, and more productive. With Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning, the question is if machines can do it better, does the world no longer need lawyers?

The future may seem bleak, but it isn’t. According to Alessandra Bini, General Counsel at IBM Italy, “Artificial Intelligence won't substitute professionals in the legal sector, but it will make their lives much easier”. She would know because she works with the same company that along with SoftBank robotics created Pepper in the year 2015.

According to the blog Morning Future (created by Adecco Group, Italy), Pepper is a high-tech legal assistant and was developed with the help of cognitive AI system that allows for analysis of enormous quantities of data in only a few seconds, optimising and rationalising the work required in legal research to great levels.

The next question that stands is, how can Artificial Intelligence be employed within the scope of law?
The answer to that lies in the application of Artificial Intelligence in all other sectors of business.

Like it or not, Artificial Intelligence’s highest significance lies in its capability to take vast amounts of data and apply analysis algorithms to it.
Therefore, making knowledge management easier. The application of AI in companies like Amazon and Facebook didn’t turn human resources obsolete. It only helped increase the efficiency of the workforce. The same rules apply even in the field of law.

Lawyers spend hours carrying out legal research, analysing data, and completing paperwork. The advent of Artificial Intelligence will allow lawyers to focus on other high priority areas because a machine will perform mundane tasks. Artificial Intelligence, within seconds, can compare documents to older legal cases, research through years of data to find the most suitable one, and even analyse concepts. This also expedites the identification of risks and clauses that need closer study.

Artificial Intelligence, within seconds, can compare documents to older legal cases, research through years of data to find the most suitable one, and even analyze concepts

Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence can carry out a lot of tasks with high efficiency. A technique called Natural Language Processing allows Artificial Intelligence to scan and predict important documents for cases.

The benefits of adopting Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning in law don’t end here. Lawyers’ working hours can be cut down by 2.5 percent in the next five years, thanks to Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, law firms that have already incorporated Artificial Intelligence have reported that only 4 percent of a lawyer’s time is spent doing research and other mundane tasks, according to a paper written by Dana Remus, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Frank S. Levy a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Urban Studies & Planning.

However, performing tasks such as advising clients, writing legal briefs, negotiating, and appearing in court is beyond the reach of computers and machines. Therefore, it’s safe to say that lawyers are not at the risk of becoming obsolete.

Having said this, it’s also important to accept that change is happening and it is changing the law and the legal field as a whole. Therefore, it’s essential that lawyers today understand and learn how to work with Artificial Intelligence. This knowledge also plays a huge part in them being a good lawyer.

There are new regulations and laws that are already in place specifically for Artificial Intelligence in various industries like finance, healthcare, management, among others. In-depth understanding of these laws is essential for lawyers both new and old.

For those looking to pursue a law career, it’s important that they look for law institutes that teach these new laws related to emerging technology and Artificial Intelligence. Students are surrounded by experts and teachers that can help them develop a deeper understanding of these new technologies and laws so that they can stay relevant in this rapidly advancing world that we live in.

In conclusion, innovation and technological advancements can’t be and shouldn’t be stopped. However, it doesn’t have to mean the end of a profession; it merely means that there is a greater need to adapt to these changes. How can we do that? By developing a richer understanding of the world around us and initiating conversations within our educational system that allow us to be better equipped to handle and thrive in the constantly evolving world around us.