For many years trainee pilots and racing car drivers have been able to hone their skills in simulators. Now advances in technology means that legal professionals may be able to enhance their skills in a similar setting.
Advances in technology mean that artificial intelligence can be used to simulate, among other things, courtroom judgements. Not only will this allow lawyers to become better at their job it may also make legal representation more affordable and accessible.
Benjamin Alarie, the Osler Chair in Business Law at the University of Toronto and co-founder and chief executive officer of Blue J Legal believes that this will make law, as a career, more intellectually engaging and also “more predictable, accessible and transparent.”
Blue J Legal, who are based in Toronto, is among a wave of start-ups who are using artificial intelligence to manage the continually growing pile of documents, transcripts and case law that legal professionals deal with.
The process of combing through files by hand is time consuming but necessary, for so long it has been the only way to prepare for cases.
As this work is paid for by the client legal cases can quickly become frighteningly expensive.
By using artificial intelligence it is hoped that these searches can become automated, delivering pertinent summaries in a fraction of the time.
This will also allow lawyers to spend more time with their clients, crafting a better case to take into the courtroom.
Blue J goes a step further by using simulation software to predict how a court might rule in a given case.
Alarie says the system, which is called Tax Foresight is aimed at tax lawyers and accountants, and is about 90% accurate.
While not perfect, it can give users a clearer snapshot of their respective positions, which means fewer cases going before a judge.
Following the success of Tax Foresight, Blue J is soon to launch a second product, Employment Foresight, which will bring similar predictive judgment simulations to labour law.
Alarie believes that most fields which involve contracts, transactions or relationships, including tort law, personal injury and liability, is fertile ground for his company’s software. Blue J is not alone in this field.
Canada, and the Toronto area, in particular, is a hotbed for artificial intelligence start-ups that are focusing on the legal and financial professions.
As is often the case the introduction of artificial intelligence has provoked concerns that it may lead to redundancies in the sector. This has been happening for many years in more manual professions.
A report by the International Bar Association recently added lawyers and accountants to the list of workers who could eventually be replaced by algorithms.
The report warned that any job that involves repetition, such as searching through legal documents, could be at risk from being replaced by artificial intelligence.
For some this is not necessarily a bad thing. Colin Lachance, CEO of Canadian legal research platform Compass and former president of the Canadian Legal Information Institute, thinks that while artificial intelligence will probably change the traditional training path for young lawyers who often get saddled with document searching tasks it is unlikely to replace legal professionals entirely.
Instead an improved efficiency could lead to lower legal costs and greater public accessibility.
Proponents of artificial intelligence often champion these benefits. However some experts have warned that there is the possibility that legal firms will seek to turn the cost savings into higher profits.
Source Globe & Mail