The future of the legal profession has been making headlines in recent weeks with the news that 'Ross', the world’s first artificially intelligent “lawyer”, has been “hired” to carry out research in the bankruptcy practice of US law firm, Baker & Hostetler.
Although described as a robot lawyer, Ross is actually a computer program powered by IBM’s Watson super computer, which previously made headlines when it competed on the US gameshow Jeopardy! Ross has the power to carry out large complex research tasks at a much faster rate than a human lawyer. Ross can also present the results of his research in much the same way as a human lawyer or paralegal, using natural language and evidencing the points it makes.
In addition to advances in artificial intelligence, the legal world continues to embrace technology as the courts move more services online and processes, such as discovery in litigation, begin to make use of new technology.
The current trend towards technology has led some to make pessimistic predictions for the profession’s future. There may be less call for staff to carry out time intensive tasks such as large research projects and discovery but predicting the end of all lawyers seems a way off just yet. The new technology may be able to process data faster than human counterparts, however, there does not seem to be a technological solution which can provide empathy or the human touch that is provided by a competent human lawyer.