September 01, 2018 Feature

Robo-Lawyers : Your New Best Friend or Your Worst Nightmare?

The successful lawyer of the future will be a human attorney working closely with artificial intelligence.

Gary Marchant and Josh Covey

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The headlines are ominous:

“Artificial Intelligence Beats Big Law Partners in Legal Matchup”

“The Verdict Is In: AI Outperforms Human Lawyers in Reviewing Legal Documents”

“AI Beats Human Lawyers at Lawyering”

“The Robot Lawyers are Here—and They’re Winning”

“Artificial Intelligence Beats Lawyers Again”

“Now That Lawyers Have Lost to AI, What Is the Future of Law?”

Those, and other examples like them, have led many people in the legal industry to subscribe to one of the following two beliefs about artificial intelligence (AI):

  1. Overbuying the Hype: AI will replace all human lawyers in the next couple of years.
  2. Ignoring the Facts: What lawyers do is so bespoke—customizing everything precisely for clients’ unique situations—that no machine will ever be able to do the legal work that clients need.

Both beliefs are wrong. They bring to mind a phenomenon that Bill Gates addressed in his autobiography years ago: Humans overestimate the impact of emerging technologies in the short term and underestimate the impact of emerging technologies in the long term.

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