Artificial Intelligence (AI) Software: Friend or Foe?
The cover story of the October/November 2006 issue of National, the magazine published by the Canadian Bar Association, dealt with the interesting topic of artificial intelligence (AI) software and its effect on the legal profession. I was quite surprised to learn that some global corporate law firms are selling legal opinions created by the use of expert cyberspace systems. Apparently, a client answers a series of interactive computerized questions designed to collect relevant facts, and presto! A legal opinion is produced.
The article notes that many courts and legal aid organizations are also relying on the intelligent preparation of forms and court documents to expand access to justice.
The article notes that Australia is leading the way in lawyer automation, while in Canada, it is still in its infancy.
Is AI software leading to the eventual automation of the legal profession? Will lawyers become irreplaceable? According to the article, the answer is no. Many intelligent software programs are designed to assist lawyers in giving advice to clients. In addition, by using such programs, lawyers free up more time to engage in analytical thinking and focus on creative legal solutions. Machines, thankfully, cannot reproduce such human abilities. Especially with complex matters, human lawyers will be needed and valued for their judgment and expertise.
In the estates and trust area, we have seen do-it-yourself Will and power of attorney kits. There are also electronic versions of such kits, replete with brief explanations of the law and instructions on how to execute the prepared documents. Perhaps do-it-yourself trust documents are not far behind. However, while such kits may be cost-effective in the short term, the resulting legal documents may lead to costly problems of interpretation and litigation in the long run. In Ontario, having a Will or Trust prepared by a lawyer is still relatively reasonably priced. In my view, paying extra to retain a human lawyer who will employ a personal touch and reasoned judgement, instead of using a do-it-yourself kit, automated or otherwise, is well worth the cost. Some things just don’t come in a box…or AI software.
Have a great day!
Bianca La Neve