Only six years ago Watson, IBM’s computer system, beat former Jeopardy! champions on national television. Since, both the IBM designers and the machines which they develop have made great improvements and the impact on our everyday lives is not far away. After Watson won, IBM developed the ‘deep learning and natural language’[1] interaction to form “cognitive computing” a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that involves self-learning systems to mimic the way the human brain works inside of a robot. Today, Watson-powered applications are doing everything from helping in the healthcare field to assisting financial advisors plan our futures[2].

Will AI Overtake Lawyer’s Careers?

Many people believe that artificial intelligence is not close to taking over anything more than certain dull, everyday tasks, such as sorting data, however more mechanical and technology driven tasks are already outsourced to artificial intelligence. A recent example of artificial intelligence going beyond ordinary, simple tasks would be Casepoint’s CaseAssist case evaluation program. CaseAssist is one of the first artificial intelligence eDiscovery platforms that uses new and innovative programming to make the discovery process easier for the human user. It simplifies the process with technology-assisted review, a cloud collection of documents, and by proactively identifying and alerting case teams of potential hot documents, helpful search terms, important dates, and likely “junk” documents[3]. When the user starts to review the documents identified by CaseAssist, the system’s artificial intelligence and algorithms work to present more documents and emails that are automatically identified as potentially relevant to the litigation or investigation3. The user can then either accept or reject CaseAssist’s results, which will help the program ‘learn’ what exactly the user wants.

Artificial intelligence’s influence on the legal practice has become a pressing, present issue. Whether it is eDiscovery, practice management, or review of contracts, today’s newest programming uses artificial intelligence and machine learning. Artificial intelligence is breaking ground with many start-ups like Casepoint with CaseAssist, and mature companies like IBM with Watson. Programs such as CaseAssist will become more popular as we move into the future. CaseAssist works with the lawyers to determine the best way to proceed with the case. These programs powered by artificial intelligence helps the lawyers satisfy their discovery duties and helps them to make better informed, strategic decisions in both litigation and investigation. In an era where the cost of meeting discovery requirements can exceed what it may cost to resolve a case, identifying relevant information quickly is crucial to the lawyer’s success.

Therefore, yes, robots may one day take over many functions of lawyer’s jobs, but great lawyers separate themselves from average ones by providing clients a certain amount of wisdom, compassion, insight and rational judgement that robots cannot provide right now. Yet technology helps lawyers to work more efficiently, effectively, and enjoyably, so that they have extra free time to spend doing other things. Advanced technology and artificial intelligence will greatly transform lawyer’s jobs.

So, Can AI & Lawyers Work Together?

Right now, artificial intelligence cannot replace a lawyer’s job. Lawyers will still make the final decision about how to proceed in each case or transaction. While many lawyers tend to believe that artificial intelligence as a potential threat to their careers, with the belief that a robot can do their job faster, better, and cheaper, the best proactive approach is to ask whether artificial intelligence can give the firm an advantage over others.  Yet if artificial intelligence can help lawyers to make better informed decisions, we should welcome it with open arms. We should think about the artificial intelligence in legal practice as a cognitive assistant to help us learn, search, retrieve, and analyze information[4]. It has the potential to make an attorney more efficient and “to the extent attorneys perceive a threat to their practice, it may be because there’s been an inefficiency there.”[5] Artificial intelligence has the potential to advance legal research to new heights by combining humans with computers, thus supporting their joint performance.

[1] “Deep Learning in Natural Language Processing.” The Stanford Natural Language Processing Group. Stanford University, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.

[2] Olavsrud, Thor. “10 IBM Watson-Powered Apps That Are Changing Our World.” CIO. IDG, 06 Nov. 2014. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

[3] Dungarani, Amit. “Casepoint Announces the Release of CaseAssist, the First Artificial in.”PRWeb. PRWeb, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.

[4] Garg, Rahul. “Combining Natural Language Classifier and Dialog to create engaging applications .” IBM Watson. IBM, 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.

[5] Sohn, Ed. “ Can Computers Beat Humans At Law?” Above the Law. Breaking Media Inc., 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.