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Embracing the AI Revolution in Law: A New Chapter for Legal Professionals

The legal realm is undergoing a profound transformation—one driven by the rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We have already seen examples of AI. A few months ago I attended a talk by Professor Daniel Breen on artificial intelligence’s impact on the legal profession. While lawyers aren’t themselves phasing out anytime soon, AI has become a tool for both people seeking lawyers and lawyers themselves. 

Some believe that the development of such technology will deter people from seeking legal services when in reality, it could bolster it. For example, WinIt is an app created in 2015 that allows those who live in America to upload their parking ticket to determine whether it was disputable, and then efficiently file a claim that lawyers behind the scenes took care of. On the other hand, DoNotPay is a similar service that writes appeal letters for parking tickets, however utilizes a robot lawyer rather than a human. These resources make legal advice more accessible and free lawyers time to solve more complex problems.

Because of the legal systems put in place, it is unlikely for robo-lawyers to be able to fully represent plaintiffs anytime soon. Though AI has passed the bar exam, it cannot make complex legal judgments that can be evaluated as competent representation. There is also a lack of proper regulations in confidentiality and fake news that would permit people to primarily rely on AI. Recent instances of bogus citations of fake cases in briefs are examples of the limitations of artificial intelligence. 

The rapid development of this technology makes it likely that the nature of lawyers’ work will change but not necessarily negatively. It has the potential to decrease the tedious work and non-billable hours such as contract-writing or administrative tasks. In turn, it increases the value of lawyers who have the human touch—intuition, empathy, and ethical reasoning—that are often pivotal in intricate legal cases. This allows lawyers to dedicate their time to finding the best course of action for their clients more efficiently through tools like computer-assisted research.

From initially serving as co-pilots assisting legal experts to gradually taking on more autonomous roles as pilots in the legal landscape, AI is reshaping the very essence of the profession. However, it is unlikely that lawyers will be taken over by AI duplicates, or that AI will reduce the demand for lawyers.

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