Monday, March 2, 2020

Ex Machina: Technological Disruption and the Future of Artificial Intelligence in Legal Writing by John Campbell

In my last post, I criticized Compose, a legal technology tool that writes most of the first draft of briefs and motions.  My criticisms were two-fold:

1.  I don't think Compose should be used in legal education because it does things that law students must learn before they are exposed to technology.  I similarly object to its use by law firms because how are lawyers going to learn the basics of practice if they have a tool that does those basics for them.
2.  In its current state, AI cannot substitute for human judgment.  Human judgment is the key component to being a lawyer.  As anyone who has practiced law knows, every case is different.  A cookie cutter approach to litigation is not competent lawyering.
Today, I ran across an article that uses technology the right way--to supplement the human reasoning process.

"Technology is disrupting the practice of law and revolutionizing how lawyers work. This revolution is made more powerful because it is increasingly coupled with a rigorous and scientific approach to the law. In some ways law is looking more like a Silicon Valley startup and less like the oak-paneled law firms of the last 200 years.

As law, technology, and science merge, the implications for the profession are wide sweeping. This article explores changes coming to persuasive legal writing, offering new thoughts on what the future will hold. Specifically, this article pilots a method for applying technology and science to measure, analyze and improve persuasive legal writing, offering it as a proof of concept that anchors the article’s broader, and perhaps more controversial assertion.

Namely, more powerful and refined persuasive legal writing software tools, fueled by artificial intelligence, should and will disrupt and reshape significant portions of the legal space, including how legal writing is taught and how it is produced. The effect will be to view legal writing as more science, and less art. The next set of luminaries won’t rely on anecdote or intuition to teach or create legal writing; they will rely on software and data."

Here is the key sentence in the article: "This article argues, through a pilot study that serves as a proof of concept, that over the coming years the fog of advice about persuasive legal writing style can largely be cleared by developing better tools to measure persuasive legal writing and better methods for studying the effect of legal writing on outcomes."  In other words, instead of substituting for human judgment, AI used as a tool of empirical study can inform and double-check human judgment.  It doesn't replace human judgment; rather, it gives humans more accurate information to exercise human judgment.  It substitutes empirically-obtained evidence for intuition.

(Scott Fruehwald)


March 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)