Welcome! This is StrangeLaw, Esq.: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legal Technology. I’m Eli Edwards, and I’m an Emerging Technologies Research Librarian at Santa Clara University School of Law. Per the job title, I wanted to have a space to discuss legaltech issues and how Santa Clara Law is approaching them. Now, on with the show!

My inaugural post is, most fittingly, about robot lawyers. Of all of the talk about chatbot lawyers and AI lawyers and robot AI lawyers – I figured ‘robot lawyers’ were just a bit of hyperbole, an appealing but inaccurate analogy for automated legal services distributed over the Internet.

But no! There are robot lawyers. Or, a robot that dispenses basic legal advice and gives directions in a courthouse:

Beijing court now has a legal robot that provides advice

The robot, named Xiaofa, stands 1.46 meters tall and provides legal advice and guidance in a child’s voice.

“Xiaofa explains complicated legal terms in everyday language to help the public better understand legal definitions,” said Du Xiangyang, founder and CEO of AEGIS Data, which designed Xiaofa. “We used a child’s voice to ease the tense emotions of litigants who come here for help.”

The robot can move its head and wave its hands as instructions show up on screen, and it can guide people to the exact service window for litigation services.

The appearance of Xiaofa was a big move for the Beijing court, as the capital works to build a “smart” court system. Over 40,000 litigation questions and 30,000 legal issues can be answered by the robot, according to the court.

So, yeah, the future is here. Time to buckle up.

H/T to Keith R. Lee at Associate’s Mind/LawyerSlack