Artificial Intelligence in Law


Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, from Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, to Google’s Self Driving Cars, including the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney: Ross, a digital legal expert which assist lawyers through legal research. It is been anticipated that robots and artificial intelligence will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications and impact in a range of industries, such as health care, transport, customer service and home maintenance. In this context, artificial intelligence also affects Law.

As mentioned above, computationally based services have already been applied in the legal world too. Ross is an artificially intelligent attorney which helps lawyers power through legal research. The machine is designed to understand language, provide answers to questions, formulate hypotheses and monitor developments in the legal system. This way, it improves upon existing alternatives by actually understanding questions in natural sentences, such as “Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?”. The robot can mine facts and conclusions by analysing billions of documents and will provide an highly relevant answer with citations and suggested readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources.  

Ross Robot is already working in the bankruptcy team of a global Firm and according to Andrew Arruda, the co-founder of the company behind the “digital attorney”, other law firms are also planning to sign licenses with Ross.

It is important to point out that Ross does not replace lawyers, but only assist them and allow them to do more and faster than they were able to do before. Nevertheless, once machine intelligence become as good as humans (lawyers in this case) in developing some kind of service it does not stop improving, considering not only that unlike humans, robots can work incessantly without caffeine or sleep, but also in a shorter space of time, which can help save a lot of time for lawyers, who need to master a huge and growing body of literature to do their job. That is why work done by junior lawyers and trainees will be done by robots in a not too distant future, like it is already happening with Ross, who can read through the law in a second.

All this leads us to the following question: is there a big possibility that robots will be able to preform complex legal services too in a more distant future? Will machines be able to speak in court? In brief, will lawyers be replaced by robots?

Ross and other developments already mean that software can effectively do the job of a in-house lawyer. That is why in the recent years, the fate of lawyers (among other professions) has been seen to be in danger. The rapid commercialization of artificial intelligence has led to concerns that lawyers can be automated.

Artificial intelligence is designed to stimulate human thinking. However, at the moment is not creative or independent, two qualities which are crucial for the discharge of the legal profession and its obligations. Furthermore, artificial intelligence might come up with a list of precedents, statues and regulation, but it does not yet have the ability to analyse the individual circumstances of a client and the human experience of making a persuasive argument that takes the context into account: lawyers have a moral and ethical responsibility which must use to build trust with the clients which, at least nowadays, artificial intelligence lack of.

Regardless of what can happen in a more distant future, artificial intelligence is inevitably affecting the society, including legal jobs, the legal role and the effectiveness of the rule of law and the justice system. That is why changes to employment law need to me made in preparation for this kind of intelligence machines and adapt to them. The expectations we have from the world are dynamic, changing and transforming at speed, and we must face the fact that artificial intelligence will become more and more entrenched in our lives. Adding technology to the workplace is more likely to transform, rather than to eliminate jobs. This way, the justice and legal systems have already started to embrace the use of technology and the benefits of artificial intelligence, and leaders must become more forward-looking and understand that they must look into the future and understand the impact of new technologies, using it to improve their work.  

On the other hand, artificial intelligence is increasingly pushing the boundaries of the traditional areas of law. For instance, if an injury is caused by a robot, who/what will be liable for the damages? What legal measures are needed to prevent these incidents? A whole new body of law and regulation will be needed to manage the implications of advances in robots and artificial intelligence. However, this does not currently have an answer in the law and is a different topic to be discussed.  


The Washington Post: Meet ‘Ross’, the newly hired legal robot.

ROSS official webpage

Law firms in Transition:

The New York Times: The end of lawyers? Not so fast

Artificial intelligence in law

Legal revolution: the ‘future normal’ for law firms:





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