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Sorry, a Robot Is Not About to Replace Your Lawyer

Posted by hkarner - 20. März 2017

Date: 20-03-2017
Source: The New York Times

James Yoon, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif., says people are willing to pay for his experience. “What clients don’t want to pay for is any routine work.”

Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley’s next victim.

But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of A.I. in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process. In other words, like it or not, a robot is not about to replace your lawyer. At least, not anytime soon.

“There is this popular view that if you can automate one piece of the work, the rest of the job is toast,” said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That’s just not true, or only rarely the case.”

An artificial intelligence technique called natural language processing has proved useful in scanning and predicting what documents will be relevant to a case, for example. Yet other lawyers’ tasks, like advising clients, writing legal briefs, negotiating and appearing in court, seem beyond the reach of computerization, for a while.

“Where the technology is going to be in three to five years is the really interesting question,” said Ben Allgrove, a partner at Baker McKenzie, a firm with 4,600 lawyers. “And the honest answer is we don’t know.”
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