, February 03, 2023

Can AI replace lawyers?


  •   2 min reads
Can AI replace lawyers?

DoNotPay, has created a robot to act as a lawyer — so can AI replace lawyers?

Joshua Browder, CEO of DoNotPay has created what it calls a lawyer robot. The robot acts as a kind of knowledgeable assistant to a defendant — like a lawyer on the other end of a telephone line. The robot listens to a trial involving a defendant and whispers advice through an earpiece, guiding the defendant on what to say.

So is it curtains for lawyers, then?

Sarah Cleary-Brown, a Lecturer at BPP University Law School and former law firm partner, says:

"Technology has already transformed the legal world over the last couple of decades.  Litigators are now working largely online rather than with hard copy trial bundles and have a range of legal tech solutions on hand to make them more efficient and effective. In addition, E-disclosure and search engines have allowed speedy but accurate analysis of vast amounts of non-evidential disclosure.

"However, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence in the form of legal Bots has emerged a little more recently.  If these US law robots have acquired the ability to listen in, advise on live proceedings, and can represent clients in parking and motoring cases, some real-life lawyers are going to have to up their game or lose out on some of their 'bread and butter work' in the simplest of hearings where advocacy is required.  However, I imagine there is still a long way to go before the motor law robots rival the success rate and reputation of celebrity lawyer' Mr Loophole', Nick Freeman.

"In a contentious setting in a courtroom, nothing is ever straightforward. Witnesses are not always as good evidentially live as they are on paper or screen. Or their tone, personality and body language can come over far better in real life than their words on paper. The bot won't be able to pick up on nuances like this. Tactical decisions are made by litigants by getting a "feel" of how a hearing is going – not just on the representations of their lawyers.

"There's no doubt that AI has made a litigation lawyer's job easier by reviewing and identifying important documents that might, for example, collapse a case against your client. But it's likely it would struggle to cross-examine or raise an objection.  What the current Bots lack is emotional intelligence, empathy and the other 'soft skills' that the best lawyers are now expected to have in spades.  I sense it will be some time before AI develops these attributes and skills to come anywhere close to the all-around standard of a competent junior barrister."

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