There was applause for IBM Corp.’s Watson when it beat Ken Jennings on Jeopardy, and people reveled at Google’s AlphaGo when it defeated Ke Jie, a Go world champion. But what about the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and the law?
Recently, on July 12, 2017, Joshua Browder announced a major upgrade to his free legal aid chatbot, DoNotPay, which has already helped fight 375,000 parking tickets in the U.K, New York, and Seattle. As part of the major upgrade, Browder introduced 1,000 new chatbots to help generate transactional forms in a variety of new legal areas in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K. In addition, Browder also announced the DoNotPay platform is open to anyone that wants to create a “law bot” to assist clients with identifying and filling out relevant legal documents.
At first blush, online services such as DoNotPay provide sensational headlines and appear to independently compete with traditional law firm services. However, AI and automation is not a new concept in the legal industry. Indeed, a shift in the legal marketplace to embrace such technologies was aided, in part, by the financial recession from 2007-2009 which pressured law firms to find creative ways to reduce costs but also maintain accuracy, consistency, and integrity of work product. Today, many firms increasingly employ AI systems (e.g., machine learning, natural language processing, expert systems, etc.) to assist with a number of tedious and often time-consuming tasks such as legal research, due diligence, and contract review.
Rather than viewing AI systems as a death knell in the legal industry, AI systems supplement or compliment legal practices and provide positive opportunities for clients and attorneys alike. AI systems can accurately automate tedious repetitive processes at a lower cost than humans and also provide important tools to help educate clients, identify legal issues, and organize information. However, there are limitations to AI systems such as automating non-repetitive tasks (e.g., advising clients, forming legal strategies, courtroom appearances, etc.). Accordingly, clients and attorneys should consider an integrated approach where AI systems provide time- and cost-saving tools that help achieve efficient and successful outcomes.
I am fortunate to be a part of Polsinelli’s professionals who have particular expertise in AI and Advanced Robotics (AR). We work together with all clients, small and large, to craft business strategies, navigate complex regulatory issues, and protect and commercialize inventive technologies throughout the United States and globally.