Will AI Soon Replace The Lawyer?

Will AI soon replace the lawyer?

AI significantly reduces the workload of employees and leads to a “streamlining” of procedural processes, says Jens Reumschüssel of Exterro.

The idea of algorithms making decisions in our legal systems that directly affect our lives seems like something out of a science fiction movie. However, automation in the sense of artificial intelligence is no longer a pipe dream, both in the judiciary and more fundamentally in the environment of corporate governance, risk management and compliance, or GRC for short: legal tech exists and is also used in Germany by courts, lawyers and internal legal departments. Does this mean that in the future a virtual lawyer will represent us in court? Or that a robot will be hunting down criminals?

Well, some experts may argue about that. The fact is, AI has its strengths. The human brain is extremely good at recognizing patterns. But when we are confronted with so-called mass data, i.e. “Big Data,” we reach our limits. A human investigator would have to spend days, weeks or months digging through the numerous sources of potential evidence – even if there is no guarantee of discovering crucial information.

Access-to-justice applications

AI, on the other hand, sifts through terabytes, even petabytes, of information and data in just minutes, filtering out false positives and providing near-perfect insight into trends and correlations between data sets. At the same time, in digital forensics, for example, many processes share the same phases of evidence processing and review, making it relatively easy to replicate. In the simplest AI manifestation, this ranges from translating foreign language documents to classifying, recognizing, and categorizing similar objects.

So what does this mean in reality? Consumers, for example, can use so-called access-to-justice apps to reclaim withheld costs from airlines without direct contact with a lawyer, or have apps help them write legal letters. The underlying machine-learning software matches the user’s own words with legally correct wording. In turn, the Bavarian Ministry of State’s current “Legal Analytics” research project is looking at the possibility of an anonymized database of court decisions that could allow analytics to inform decisions in future legal cases.

AI in law enforcement

Artificial intelligence is also taking on an important role in law enforcement, with AI sifting through large amounts of data for crimes such as child pornography or hate crime on the Internet. In the legal GRC environment, for example, in compliance with the GDPR, automated workflows in combination with robotics and AI-based deletion concepts help further – whether a document is to be created, the end of a deadline determined, or the existence of a claim clarified.

As a general rule, before a process of any kind can begin, many administrative tasks must first be performed and large amounts of data must be processed. These processes take a lot of time and are partly responsible for the process backlog in some areas. The use of AI significantly reduces the workload of employees and leads to a “streamlining” of procedural processes.

Whether there will ever be virtual investigators or even robot judges, however, is something I dare to doubt. Artificial intelligence (at least today) does not have the emotional intelligence required to make the right decisions. Legal decisions in particular always relate to a specific individual and a specific individual case. Making a judgment about individual specifics, the ability to interpret vague legal terms, or to understand emotions – AI is not capable of doing that. Legal tech is, however, a useful technology that can be expanded to speed up processes in the legal system and make work easier.

Jens Reumschüssel

Jens Reumschüssel

is Director of Sales DACH – Public Sector at Exterro. Previously, the engineer held several positions at Siemens, Siemens Nokia, Famic Technologies and Cellebrite.