Lawyers and judges – should you be afraid that AI will take your jobs?

As technology becomes more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) is also increasing rapidly in the legal sector.

Predicting outcomes

AI was seen recently in the legal sphere when the use of e-disclosure was approved in the High Court case of Pyhrro investments v MWB Property. This case used predictive coding – an algorithm that filters information to helps determine its relevance in discovery. A small percentage of documents are reviewed by a lawyer and the relevant sections flagged to the other side. This information is then inputted into a computer which applies the rule to the remainder of the documents. This type of technology would significantly aid large scale law firms dealing with thousands of documents, but will it dispel the need for junior lawyers?

Resolving disputes online

Elsewhere in the field of legal technological advancement, online dispute settlements are becoming more commonplace. Following the European Union’s enactment of new alternative dispute regulations in 2015, requiring online vendors to provide a platform for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), eBay now settles over 60 million disputes a year through ODR.

Professor Richard Susskind OBE, as independent adviser to international professional firms and national governments, advocated the employment of artificial intelligence in a report on online dispute resolution (PDF). The report was backed by Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, enhancing its credibility from a legal perspective.

AI impartiality

Would removing subjective and biased human minds from the decision-making process make solving a dispute more effective? Humans still created the machines originally, and designed and inputted the algorithms that determine how those machines makes their decisions, so it seems we can never completely eradicate subjectivity in AI.

Artificial intelligence also can’t stand to argue in court or advise clients on matters that may be highly personal and emotional. It can advise clients on simple matters, via a chatbot. It is likely that, in future, the ‘heavy lifting’ work involving sifting through masses of data will be discharged by AI, allowing lawyers – both junior and senior – the opportunity to focus on duties that are skill orientated or require a high degree of emotional intelligence.


Alex McFarlane is an Intern at Byfield Consultancy