Will Artificial Intelligence supersede lawyers: Critical Analysis

Author: Pruthvi K., 4th Year Law Student pursuing BBA LLB at SDM Law college, Mangalore.

The author has written this article while pursuing our 10 Days Workshop on Legal Research and Writing. 

It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.”- G. W. Leibniz

Digitalization and automation has changed the course of man’s life. From setting an alarm in cuckoo clock to asking Siri to complete the task, we’ve all evolved. Artificial intelligence has made life simpler by reducing the workload with just a simple click. With global competition at its peak, the business world has also digitally updated their functions and operations to match the advancing technology. While artificial intelligence is taking over almost all sectors, its application in the field of law is still at infancy. Though the idea of artificial intelligence working hand-in-hand with law seems fascinating and scope for immense growth, it also poses a serious threat to the profession.

Artificial intelligence is the recreation of human intelligence in terms of machines, especially computer systems. Artificial intelligence comprises Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), which are sometimes used interchangeably and it becomes hard to differentiate between the three. AI comprises systems that imitate cognitive capabilities, like learning from examples and solving problems. They have varied applications, from self-driving cars to predictive systems.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) deals with how computers understand and translate human language. Its primary function is to interpret written or spoken text and act accordingly. Tasks like translation, keyword extraction, topic classification are performed by NLP. Once the written or spoken text is interpreted, the system needs to process the data and deliver accurate responses. This is dealt by Machine learning. It is the process of applying algorithms that teach machines how to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. For instance, AI-based voice assistants like Siri, Alexa or Google assistant use NLP to interpret what users say and what they intend to do, and machine learning to automatically deliver more accurate responses by learning from past interactions.

Development of Artificial intelligence in field of law:

Law is considered to be the foundation on which all business actions and operations rely. From purchase to sales; finance to logistics, a well drafted contract determines the success of the business. Although in recent years legal service industries have witnessed an unprecedented growth, the sector still remains under digitized. The same old fashioned way of drafting contracts and pleadings is still in practice which unreasonably delays the process and ultimately delays justice. It is high time that lawyers of this era understand the competitive challenges ahead and accordingly adapt to the advancing technology, not only to ease their workload but also render effective services to their clients.

Law, unlike other social sciences, is mostly dependent on logic and reasoning. The role of precedent, ratio decidendi, and obiter dicta plays a very major role in deciding cases. That is the very reason for law being a perfect match for application of Artificial intelligence. Machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and Artificial intelligence works with similar logic oriented methodology. They refer to historical data to determine the best course of action to be applied to the situation at hand.

With the fusion of Artificial intelligence and law, there is immense scope of growth and development in the field of law. According to a report published by Statista Research Department on Share of law firms worldwide using machine learning tools by strategy 2018-2019, 10% of respondents reported that they have one or more AI/ ML tools in practice, 7% reported to have at least one active AI/ML pilot in place and 54% of respondents reported that they do not have any artificial intelligence or machine learning tools. This reflects the possibility of law working in harmony with Artificial intelligence and also the opportunity for growth in the under digitized sectors. It is foreseen that in the near future, the role of Artificial intelligence in the field of law will increase to unprecedented growth. Though currently AI works alongside human assistance and is not empowered to function on its own, with advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning they can perform end-to-end tasks with preprogrammed algorithms.

Importance and impact of Artificial intelligence in Law:

Modern automated tools have undoubtedly eased the repetitive and time consuming works. Though the application of AI in the field of law is presently on a small scale, the impact is enormous. AI is powered to modify how people interact digitally and personally. With the advanced tools and software in the system, the field of law can witness drastic changes in its operations.

  1.  Assist in updating information:

Law operates in a dynamic environment where it changes very often. The amendments and ratifications to existing laws and enactment of new laws create an ocean of information one must be aware of. Moreover, innumerable cases are decided by the Courts where few landmark judgements are pronounced and few decisions are overruled. A person cannot be expected to remember all this information. Artificial intelligence with its vast database can solve this issue. Once the necessary data are input to the system, they are readily available to the user.

  •  Research:

Research is a prominent area in the field of law. Extensive research requires reading from several sources. This is a time consuming and manual process where a law student or lawyer must read several case law volumes and books to find relevant precedents. In recent years with the advent of different software and websites, this process has been simplified.

  • Due diligence:

In order to render effective and efficient advice to their clients, a lawyer must be well versed with the facts, analyze the case in relation to relevant laws, rules and precedents and complete all necessary paperwork. This process is time consuming and often the junior associates are found to make errors in their tasks. With the assistance of Artificial intelligence, the necessary information can be uploaded to the system while the software interprets and delivers the required results.

  • Prediction test:

The algorithms based on which the Artificial intelligence functions are not only trained to work as per command but also well trained to predict the outcomes based on similar patterns in the database. In law, especially in the motor vehicle cases, insurance liability, contact liabilities we can find a common pattern in the issues and decisions. This can be utilized by the lawyers to predict the outcome before the case is taken to trial. With this approach not only the time and workload of the lawyers and Courts are saved but also of the clients.

  • Electronic billing:

Artificial intelligence can assist in preparation of electronic bills based on the billable hours of a lawyer. To simplify, the client can pay for the actual hours a lawyer spent in working for his/her case. Thereby the clients pay for the efforts put in by the lawyers.

  • Contract review:

Contracts are the basic requirements for any business operations to be legally enforceable. Reviewing the contracts can be tedious tasks which are often prone to errors. Lawyers must manually read, edit and cross check red lined documents to avoid blunders. With AI, the contracts can be screened to remove the irrelevant and erroneous clauses.

  • Simplify legalese:

Judgements and legal documents are drafted in a complex form. In other words, they involve a lot of jargon and legal maxims. A law student or a lawyer is well trained to read and understand these terms. But a layman reading a judgment or a document is subjected to misperception. With natural language processing (NLP) the documents can be easily searched as well as understood by any person, thereby making it client friendly.

Applications of Artificial intelligence in law:

Though experts foresee automated and digitally empowered lawyers and law firms in the future, the applicability of Artificial intelligence in the field of law currently is limited. Although technology driven tools are available, lawyers are still pursuing the traditional way of drafting and researching.  But the areas of law where Artificial intelligence is put into practice has witnessed growth in terms of efficiency and quality of service.

  1. LawGeex:   LawGeex has developed Contract Review Automation (CRA) which resolves the issue. The user can mail their contracts to LawGeex for review. The pre-trained AI scans the contract for issues according to their guidelines. The edits suggested by AI are then reviewed and confirmed by the LawGeex legal quality assurance team. The final redlined document is sent back to the user. The software is a trusted choice of leading companies worldwide like Deen & Bradstreet, White & Case, Brandwatch, Lonza, and Chemo. The company claims that it can save 80% of the time reviewing and approving contracts, 90% of cost saving is achieved when compared to manual approach, and it works 3 times faster in deal closing time.
  • Clear law: clear law helps businesses close deals faster by using AI to surface contract risk and provide a roadmap for closing. The platform analyzes language at a deeper level to focus ones attention on what really matters. Repetitive backend processes are automated so that users can move confidently and quickly through contract review, whether it is a standard template or third party paper. Jordan Ritenour, CEO of Clear Law opines that, “we believe legal professionals should be able to leverage large datasets to make more informed decisions in the same way that marketing and sales professionals have been doing for years.”


3.      Lexion: Lexion is a simple and affordable contract repository that uses AI to let the user gain insights about their agreements. They perform the following functions:

  • Quickly find your contracts in an organized repository
  • Track key obligations and dates with AI-assist
  • Create powerful reports about what’s in your contracts
  •  Kira systems: Kira systems is another contract reviewing software that helps the user to flag issues and articulate the red lined documents effectively and efficiently. As the saying goes ‘every hour saved is an hour spent wisely’, Kira system reviews and analyses contracts in minutes. This award winning software can read, identify and extract information in almost any format and quickly summarize the key findings. The final report will then be exported to the user in preferred format. Allen & Overy, Latham & Watkins LLP, Bennett Jones are some leading companies using this software to review their contracts.
  • Blue-J:  Toronto based Blue-J is a legal startup that is developing AI powered legal prediction engines. According to the company, its AI can predict case outcomes with 90% accuracy. Benjamin Alarie, CEO of Blue-J mentioned that, “ we are already starting to see significant advantages being gleaned by sophisticated parties leveraging machine learning legal prediction technology.” He further opined that, “in the next10 years, these algorithmic technologies will become the natural starting point for legal advice.
  • Ross intelligence: Legal research is the basic ingredient which determines the success of a law firm. While it constitutes the basic function of a lawyer, it also is a time consuming and mundane work. ROSS intelligence is an NLP driven application which simplifies the research process. Users can obtain relevant case laws, recommended readings, and other sources by simply asking questions. ROSS AI process functions in 3 categories. Understanding, retrieval and ranking. When a query is submitted, ROSS analyses it with NLP algorithms to understand the query. The retrieval and ranking algorithms help to find the cases with keyword search. Further, with machine learning the research can be improvised.
  • Dragon legal: In this present, where human intelligence is driving forward with great speed. With the assistance of Speech Recognition Software, we have come up with a highly efficient product: Dragon Legal Individual 15. This device adapts to your voice or environmental variations, whereas your dictated words square measure regenerates into text, with the help of this advanced technology. Thus, quick legal documentation and up client services with ease. Preparation of case files, contracts, briefs and format citations area unit done involuntarily by the help of this technology.

Concerns for AI overpowering the lawyers:

“…The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have proved very useful. But I fear the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”-  Stephen Hawking

With all the advantages AI offers in the field of law, it poses concern for replacing the lawyers and law analysts. While the fact that Artificial intelligence can do the work of a lawyer with ease and comparatively less time and effort is true, one cannot ignore that AI, however advanced, is still a computer program which cannot read and understand emotions. Although the cases before a lawyer have some similarities in the issues, they will have entirely different facts and circumstances. Therefore applying solutions derived from AI based on similar algorithms may not always be the solution. Artificial Intelligence can only assist a lawyer in reducing the workload and increasing the authenticity, accuracy of research and analysis. But the other functions of a lawyer like representing his clients before Court of law, arguments advanced by him cannot be outsourced to Artificial Intelligence.

While China has already employed robots in their Courts to retrieve case histories and past verdicts, the question whether AI powered robots or software can be a judge in a trial also pops up. If yes, it would solve the pending cases piled up for years in our Courts. But the limitations of having an AI powered judge deciding a case is significantly scarier when a simple error in judgment can send an innocent person to jail or at worst be awarded a death sentence.

Ganesh Kesari, Co- founder and head of analytics at Gramener opines that, “today, AI is more suited to play a role of judicial assistant than that of a Criminal judge. It is smart at processing details, summarizing cases and looking up references. It is not ready to take decisions on cases just as yet.”

The application of AI in judicial realm can provide judges with splendid resources but it can’t take the place of judge’s expertise,” says Zhou Qiang, the head of the Supreme People’s Court at the World Government summit.

Blunder by Amazon:

Many giant business firms have developed software to recruit potential candidates. Kevin Parker, Chief executive of HireVue says that, “automation is helping firms look beyond the same recruiting networks upon which they have long relied”. His firm analyses a candidate’s facial expression and speech in the video interviews to reduce reliance on resumes.

Goldman Sachs created their own resume analysis tool which tries to match candidates with the division where they would best fit.

But not all AI is potentially well trained to act on its own. A Reuters article revealed that Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN.O machine-learning specialists uncovered a problem in their recruiting software. That said its new recruiting engine did not like women. The team built the software to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talents. But it was later realized that the AI powered software was not acting in a gender neutral way. The reason behind this irregularity was that the software was trained to scrutinize the resumes by observing patterns from resumes submitted over a 10 year period. Since male dominance prevailed in the workforce a few years back, the AI taught itself that male candidates were preferred and hence rejected the resumes with words highlighting ‘female’. Though the software was then revised to scrutinize resumes in a more gender neutral way, it provides no guarantee that the AI will not self-learn other discriminatory ways. This case proves to be a classic example why Artificial intelligence cannot be allowed to work solely.

Need for rule governing the application of AI:

Speaking at the first International Conference on Law and Regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) organized by the IFIM Law School, Dipak Misra, former Chief Justice of India said, “AI needs a strong legal framework around it to explore maximum benefits. AI today is growing multifold and we still do not know all the advantages or pitfalls.”  While expressing his concern regarding the deficiency in laws regulating the AI in the sector, he positively stated that in the near future, India may follow the lead of several countries such as Canada, Singapore, France, China and the UK, to name a few, in formulating and eventually implementing policies and regulations that control the use of AI.

Artificial intelligence is currently used in a very limited amount in the legal field. With advancements in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence they may become a common tool used by lawyers and law firms in the near future. After analyzing the limitations and dangers posed by them, it becomes essential to frame rules for ensuring their smooth functioning. It becomes necessary to address the following issues before formulating the laws:

  1. Can Artificial intelligence be treated as a Juristic person, on whom the law has conferred legal rights?
  2. Will the theory of vicarious liability be applied to any injury caused by Artificial Intelligence due to its negligence? If so, the extent of liability.
  3. Extent to which the assistance of AI can be used in the legal profession. Will it provide efficient assistance in criminal law just like in civil law?
  4. Inclusion of human lawyers in the process of Artificial Intelligence and the areas of inclusion.
  5. Whether the user of such service can be considered as ‘Consumer’ under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


Artificial intelligence can undoubtedly work harmoniously with law. It can help in reducing the monotonous work and thereby save time and cost. Further the AI can also render efficient solutions with much accuracy. The concerns for AI overpowering lawyers is legitimate but practically AI cannot function without human intervention. I believe that AI working with law will create enormous scope for development and growth. In conclusion, AI will always depend on humans for the emotional and logical quotient. Therefore AI can never replace lawyers or law analysts.








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