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New Year, New Robot Lawyers?

New Year, New Robot Lawyers?

Nothing beats peering into the future as a good way to start off a new year. With that in mind, we turn to a recent article in the Gazette about the use of ‘robot brains’ in legal practice.

In what’s called ‘a knowledge transfer partnership’ (slightly calling to mind sci-fi films featuring brain transplants), Riverview Law has paired up with the computer science faculty at Liverpool University to improve on the speed and efficiency of human intelligence when it comes to processing large quantities of data.

It’s hoped the results of the partnership could herald something of a revolution in the delivery of legal services – which, in the world of big data, increasingly requires the processing of enormous amounts of information, whether graphic, audio, video or text. The result could be significantly increased turnaround times (a compelling motivation when cost-cutting remains a top priority). Karl Chapman, chief exec at Riverview, has estimated that contract negotiation times might be reduced from ‘five to six weeks to five to six hours’.

This is by no means the legal marketplace’s first foray into artificial intelligence. In 2014 a London-based firm paired up with University College London to develop a software programme that could not only scan and understand personal injury claims but assess their suitability for action – a step far beyond the now fairly common process of using eDiscovery to pick out relevant information from reams of data.

Putting its eye to the crystal ball, the Gazette considers what might be next in the world of legal artificial intelligence. Might we shortly see the use of tech to ‘measure emotional intelligence and surveillance software to inform clients about what their lawyer is doing to work on their case’?

Whilst we’re unlikely to witness the kind of riots that greeted the invention of the ‘spinning Jenny’ during the industrial revolution, there may be those troubled by this trend for bringing tech into aspects of legal practice which one might reasonably expect to be best be carried out by an expert- and a human one, at that. The use of sophisticated software to handle the kind of data generated by twenty-first century communications and data transferral is one thing; relying on artificial intelligence to make decisions as to the worth of a PI case is quite another.

But at Legastat, we have long believed that the best way for a chambers or firm to operate in the highly competitive legal marketplace is to balance a willingness to embrace tech innovations with the continuance of the best traditions of legal practice. If you are looking ahead to 2015, we can help advise on how working with our litigations support professionals can help manage these two imperatives - and ensure you have a thriving and productive year.