May 11, 2020
Can artificial intelligence bring real justice?
One of Andrew Arruda's older articles about artificial intelligence in the legal industry contains an illustration with three covers of Der Spiegel from three different decades that all announce the same message: The robots (all of them somewhat anthropomorphic in design) will take away our work and lead to mass unemployment. The first cover is from 1964, the latest is from 2016. The covers are symptomatic for the thriving hysteria about the AI-jobpocalypse, but despite all the warnings, employment rates are reasonable in most parts of the Western world.
Artificial intelligence and access to justice
Arruda acknowledges that some professions, like truck-drivers, might be non-existing in a few decades. However, he does not believe that the same destiny awaits the legal profession. Instead, the co-founding CEO of ROSS Intelligence and member of Forbes’ 30 under 30 list of the world's best young innovators has been advocating that artificial intelligence can create more work for lawyers while also improving access to justice worldwide.
In a Ted Talk from 2016, Arruda explains that a majority of the American population cannot afford legal services. Out of 100 million people with civil justice issues in the United States, 80 million go without legal representation. Despite the fact that you are more likely to win your case by hiring a lawyer, spending an average of 360 dollars per hour for legal representation just isn't a possibility for most Americans. That leaves a huge untapped market for the legal industry to expand into. Consequently, an increase in efficiency and productivity caused by artificial intelligence won't make lawyers redundant. On the contrary, it enables law firms to solve more cases in less time which can drive down prices, boost realisation rates, and improve access to justice while law firms can maintain or even possibly increase their current profit margins. In order to realize his dream of improved access to justice, Arruda founded ROSS Intelligence which is often referred to as the world's first artificial lawyer.
ROSS Intelligence is an AI-research tool that helps lawyers solve legal questions by finding relevant passages of the law you would need to answer your legal research question. They have been on the market since 2015, and Arruda has established himself as an important voice in discussions that concern the intersection between artificial intelligence and law. Legal Tech Weekly has, therefore, saw it appropriate to include him in our series Global Thought-Leaders of Legal Innovation with an interview about the potential for artificial intelligence in the legal industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about the current state of the technological development of AI in the legal market? How does it impact the legal industry?
Lawyers are already using artificial intelligence today to improve the way they work. However, legal AI is still in its teenage years and still has maturing to do. We're now entering the phase of legal tech in AI where commercially available applications of AI tech are available across many different parts of a lawyer's workflow. We'll now begin to see the incremental gains these systems provide, in a sort of rolling effect where attorneys and firms become iteratively more efficient and productive.
What do you think will be the long term impact? How will AI have changed the legal industry in let's say 10 years?
Lawyers jobs will change. They will delegate rote work like searching case law and labelling contracts to AIs to focus on more strategic work. This will ultimately result in better and more affordable legal services, while still fundamentally leaving lawyers at the core of the work being done. While 10 years is a very long way off in terms of making accurate predictions with respect to the pace of AI, I think it's safe to say that young lawyers graduating from law school in 2029 will be entering into a profession that leverages technology to digitize and streamline every aspect of legal services.
ROSS Intelligence optimizes the legal research phase, and I have previously talked to LawGeex that optimize the contract review phase - both technologies are about reading documents and finding patterns in large amounts of data. What else do you think AI will be able to do?
Artificial intelligence already can, and will continue to, improve the client intake process. A space we are very interested in exploring is a world where ROSS aids a lawyer from the very beginning of their first client conversation, all the way to delivering closing pleadings in court with respect to that client's matter. There is already some interesting commercial applications of primitive AI-driven chatbots, and we're interested in where things can go from there.
You have a point that AI will not cause unemployment in the field of law because of the untapped market. Can elaborate that?
Firstly, you have to remember that AI systems don't automate lawyers' jobs - rather they automate specific tasks that lawyers do, enabling them to be more productive. Often people will mistakenly reduce this AI-driven automation to a binary. Before artificial intelligence, there was no automation of lawyer tasks. Post-AI, all lawyer tasks are automated. This couldn't be farther from the truth. As soon as information went from leather-bound books onto CD-ROMS and then the internet, parts of a lawyer's research workflow were being automated. The arrival of computer-based search didn't remove lawyers, it simply allowed them to give deeper, more meaningful advice to their clients.
Secondly, there's an unmet demand for legal services. 80% of people who need legal services in the US can't afford it. Technology will enable affordable legal services and products for this underserved market.
As far as I understand, you are a proponent for augmented intelligence or “the symbiotic relationship” between man and machine? Why is that?
We are proponents of augmented intelligence because AIs are very narrow in their capabilities today. Machines are narrowly intelligent whereas humans are generally intelligent, which makes them a perfect combination.
A great example of the benefits of augmented intelligence in the legal industry is what attorneys can do with ROSS Intelligence's technology. From there, they can easily ask complex legal research questions and immediately get on-point answers. We even give free access to law students as well, because the next generation of lawyers is just around the corner.