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Will AI replace your medico-legal lawyer?

By Mindo - 14th Apr 2019

Human and robot hand connecting

Artificial intelligence is a slowly-creeping influence in all aspects of industry and life in general. There have been plenty of ‘click-bait’ stories about how super-intelligent robots will replace doctors. Whether they have the potential to replace administrators some day would be a more interesting avenue of discussion.

  At any rate, bearing in mind the ‘special relationship’ between the medical and legal professions, the following may be of interest. Last year, a study measured the performance of a legal AI programme called LawGeex against a team of 20 lawyers on their ability to spot risks when reviewing and approving everyday business contracts. LawGeex achieved an accuracy level of 94 per cent, compared to 85 per cent for its human counterparts.

The programme took an astonishing 26 seconds to review five non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), compared to an average of 51 minutes for the human lawyers. The NDAs were 11 A4 pages each, containing 3,213 clauses. NDAs were chosen for the assessment because they are an extremely common daily legal task and the research methodology was vetted by law professors at Stanford and Duke universities in the US.

One of the conclusions was that there is a less than 0.7 per cent likelihood that the results were arrived at by random chance. It was also pointed out, tongue-in-cheek, that the human lawyers consumed 12 cups of coffee during the exercise, compared to zero by LawGeex. If you arrive into a Fitness to Practise hearing with one of these bad boys under your arm in a laptop, it could make proceedings very interesting indeed.

But make no mistake, AI is no joke and one wonders what its place in society will be when our great-grandchildren are growing up. For now, it might be prudent to listen to one of the world’s most influential people at the forefront of technological development.

Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and product architect at Tesla, recently gave a stark warning about what the future of AI may bring.

Speaking at MIT in the US, Musk said: “I’m very close to the cutting-edge in AI, and is scares the hell out of me. It’s capable of vastly more than anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential… we have to make sure that the advent of digital super-intelligence is one that is symbiotic with humanity. That is the single biggest existential crisis we face and the most  pressing one.”

He didn’t stop there and while stating that he is basically against over-regulation, said a body needs to be established to ensure that AI is developed safely. “The danger posed by AI is greater than the threat posed by nuclear warheads — by a lot… mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes.”

It’s a chilling vision of the future — being represented in a courtroom by entities that are unfeeling, uncaring, completely ruthless and opportunistic, willing to ignore facts and represent anybody, regardless of whether or not they are culpable, and operating outside of any type of moral framework.

Thank goodness that’s not the legal system we live with  today…

Law bites

In fairness, anybody’s views on the legal profession must be taken as a matter of perspective. Perhaps a legal team has gotten you out of a few jams at one time or other, so I’ll finish with a few quotes on the legal profession from different angles in society. I’m always grateful for any contributions to the email address at the bottom of the page.

“A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.” Mario Puzo, author, The Godfather.

“You cannot live without the lawyers, and certainly you cannot die without them.” Joseph H Choate, US lawyer and diplomat.

“I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.” Steven Wright, comedian.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part 2.

“A lawyer will do anything to win a case — sometimes, he will even tell the truth.” Patrick Murray, actor.

“If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.” Charles Dickens.

“What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.” Anonymous.

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