Law Practice Management, Socratic AI Is Changing the Face of Legal Knowledge:
I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. —attributed to Socrates
Law is a science, and … all the available materials of that science are contained in printed books… —Christopher C. Langdell, Speech at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 1887
Discussions on artificial intelligence and law seek to find the diminishing demarcation between the human-only part of lawyering (multi-disciplinary integration, especially regarding strategy; “reading” the client; emotional intelligence) and those lawyering skills more efficiently accomplished by artificial intelligence (legal pattern recognition research for document and contract review). But the more meaningful inquiries have not been asked: will human-AI collaboration advance the lawyer’s counseling? Can the AI system help the human lawyer overcome bias and produce better decisions? ...
Although many now consider the traditional law schools program as inadequately preparing law students for the increasingly tech-savvy counsel required for by today’s market, there was a time when the most advanced and practical professional teaching was in law schools.
Christopher Columbus Langdell initiated both the case method and the Socratic method of teaching law in his Harvard Law class 150 years ago. Langdell’s goal was to induce the legal reasoning of actual cases through a series of specific questions (the Socratic method) that would expose the biases and preconceptions of the law student. In a common law system, this original source-first focus properly centralized the primacy of case law study over lecturing about a generalized legal subject, allowing students to deepen case-specific legal reasoning. The case study system, employed with the Socratic method, forces the student to challenge their own inferences to foster objective, less-biased legal decision-making. It was a truly disruptive approach to teaching that became the standard method of law school teaching (used to this day), and greatly influenced graduate school teaching in other areas.
Lawyers are notoriously scared of math, but it’s essential to accept how the independence and precision of mathematics will make them better lawyers. ...
Lawyers aren’t playing a game, but are indeed looking for connections in the common law; connections that can be clarified by translating them into fluid but less-biased algorithms. The fear of AI “jobpocalypse” should be replaced by the acceptance of a tool to better find and understand legal connections. The disruption of the Socractic method in exposing bias is overcome by the truth discerned by the AI system, searching through that manmade corpus of the common law, making it more open as well as more digestible.