By Libby Rozbruch
Libby Rozbruch is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Psychology.
With the growing sophistication of artificial intelligence, many professions are adapting and beginning to operate on a more effective level – and what better profession to benefit from the efficiency of artificial intelligence than that which relies on precedent via endless amounts of data? Though known for being traditional and slow to change, the legal profession is inevitably embracing disruptive technologies that are forcing them to re-think the status quo.  Perhaps the potential for a paradigm shift in how legal work is done and how lawyers look at data is exactly what the profession needs.
The use of AI is particularly relevant to the legal sphere, as its primary function involves looking for patterns in data.  Every good lawyer knows that the key to persuasive communication is to tell a story, and deep within the data lies a story to be pitched to a potential client or to be told to a judge at trial. In order to tell that story, lawyers need to be able to sift through the data.
As Jay Leiber, co-creator of Story Engine, put it, “text analytics and machine learning can be incredibly helpful in helping the data tell its story, thus allowing legal teams and the C-suite to focus their time on nuanced analysis and application of that story to the issue at hand.”  Reading through unstructured data and summarizing all aspects of the conversations – the ideas discussed, the frequency of the communication, and the mood of the speakers – the program turns information into stories. This not only reduces the time needed for e-discovery and document review but also allows for the potential to predict future outcomes. 
Though lawyers must be able to look holistically at a legal problem and be able to come up with a strategy or solution, there is no way for them to know whether they will or will not happen. To put it simply, lawyers cannot predict the future. AI programs, on the other hand, may be able to deliver on that front; they can predict a high/low or an X percent chance of an outcome. Lawyers face biological problems of being human. They have certain fallacies that impede headway, such as tiring at the end of the day or lacking the physical capacity to turn raw information into reliable probability.  Though without the years of experience of a trained lawyer, AI technology does not face the same problems and can supply the demand.
It is hard to imagine that lawyers could one day be replaced by computers; however, there is no doubt that they can be more efficient with a computer’s help. The technology should merely be used to augment lawyers’ abilities and knowledge. By providing lawyers with immediate analysis of relevant case or statutory law, AI will allow them more time and focus to spend on creative and high-value tasks for their clients.  When asked at a roundtable discussion whether lawyers should be afraid or encouraged by AI, one panelist answered “Both. It is inevitable that AI will have a profound effect on the future of our profession. It is wise to embrace it now so that it can be a tool as opposed to an impediment. No one wants to be competing against Watson (IBM’s Jeopardy-winning computer system), but if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” 
 Cookfield, Art, Addison Cameron-Huff, Janet Fuhrer, Jeff Fung, and Jordan Furlong. “How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect the Legal Profession in the next Decade?” Queen’s University. Accessed March 22, 2018. https://law.queensu.ca/how-will-artificial-intelligence-affect-legal-profession-next-decade
 Sobowale, Julie. “Beyond Imagination: How artificial intelligence is transforming the legal profession.” ABA Journal, April 2016. Accessed March 22, 2018. http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/how_artificial_intelligence_is_transforming_the_legal_profession?utm_source=i
 Mangan, Dan. “Lawyers Could be the Next Progression to be Replaced by Computers.” CNBC, February 17, 2017. Accessed March 22, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/17/lawyers-could-be-replaced-by-artificial-intelligence.html
 Monahan, Gwynne. “How Automation is Changing the Legal Profession.” American Bar Association, October 2015. Accessed March 22, 2018. https://www.americanbar.org/publications/youraba/2015/october-2015/5-questions-on-automation.html
Photo Credit: Korbitec http://www.korbitec.ca/2017/02/23/can-we-modernize-the-justice-system-already/
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