Following up on my previous post, BakerHostetler Hires Robot Lawyer 'Ross', Ushers In Legal Jobs Apocalypse:
Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State), Artificially Intelligent Legal Research:
At least three law firms have now adopted ROSS, an artificial legal intelligence system based on IBM’s pathbreaking Watson technology. The firms include two legal giants, Latham & Watkins and BakerHostetler, along with the Wisconsin firm vonBriesen. Commitments by these firms seem likely to spur interest among their competitors. Watch for ROSS and other forms of legal AI to spread over the next few years.
What is ROSS, what does it do, and what does it mean for lawyers and legal educators? Here are a few preliminary thoughts.
College Fix, Still in Law School? Artificial Intelligence Begins to Take Over Legal Work:
For those thinking of law school, keep in mind that technology may revolutionize the profession before you earn that J.D.
In the research-driven, labor-intensive legal profession, the age-old question of man vs. machine is being answered as some law firms have begun to use an “artificially intelligent attorney” to research and hash out legal issues – a trend that legal minds predict will displace some human lawyers.
Called ROSS, the robot lawyer uses IBM’s cognitive computer program Watson to learn from experience to gain speed when answering legal questions, according to its creators. It can read through the entire body of law to return a cited answer, monitor the law to recognize other court decisions that could affect the case at hand, and even glean conclusions from more than one billion legal documents per second, they add.
Its creation comes on the heels of a 2014 analysis that predicted artificial intelligence will cause “structural collapse” of law firms by 2030.
As for the robo-lawyer, one law professor said the technology will displace some workers.
“Computers can replace human labor — the work lawyers do for discovery — and this will have an impact on the number of associates hired,” University of Tennessee Professor of Law Benjamin Barton told The College Fix in a telephone interview. “It will displace people, but won’t destroy the profession.”
Barton said the emerging technology is still developing – and believes it doesn’t forecast complete doom for human lawyers. At least not yet.
“In my opinion, right now ROSS is just a somewhat souped up version of legal research,” he said. “The people who are selling these machines want them to augment human intelligence, not replace it. These machine intelligences work alongside humans and make them more intelligent.” ...
And University of Tennessee Professor of Law Glenn Reynolds points out that advancements in technology have already replaced lawyers in several areas.
“The legal profession is being squeezed by automation at the top and the bottom,” he said in an email to The College Fix. “At the top, sophisticated text-recognition has cut out the lucrative practice of having first-year associates go through boxes of documents at exorbitant rates. At the bottom, general-practice lawyers are losing out to LegalZoom and rocketlawyer. In between, the computerized dockets and teleconferencing of federal courts slash billable hours. The ABA [American Bar Association] will fight this, but it will lose.”
Underscoring that is the 2014 study that forecasts that artificial intelligence will cause the “structural collapse” of law firms by 2030.