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We’re used to thinking about how artificial intelligence (AI) technology may take over factory jobs, customer-service positions, and even professional driving jobs, but could AI soon be replacing lawyers, too?

That’s what some programmers and technology start-ups are thinking. They’re already developing new programs that may offer clients an entirely new option in the future—robot legal services.

New Company Uses AI to Complete Tedious Legal Work

Let’s start with all those complex legal documents. Associates usually spend hours creating them, but because they are all based on a similar structure, there is an opening for technological assistance.

Justin Kan, co-founder of the popular online video service “Twitch,” is now co-founder of Atrium LTS, a company that provides legal services for other fast-growing start-ups.

Atrium plans to leverage AI technology to complete much of the legal work required by its target clientele: new companies that need help dealing with common legal concerns like commercial contracts.

Atrium has developed software that can “understand” legal documents well enough to create them without as much needed human assistance.

Kan shared an example with The Guardian, noting a client that needed capitalization tables for funding. Typically a human would have had to go through a lot of data to create a spreadsheet, but at Atrium, the software was able to step in and do it instead.

The technology can also help with employment issues and equity distribution, speed up fundraising, and complete commercial contracts.

The benefit for the client? Less time to complete these tasks, which equates to a more economical option. As to whether it would replace human lawyers, Kan stated,

“We’re always, always about humans + software.”

In his view, the technology will eventually handle the grunt work of going through mountains of documents, allowing legal professionals to focus more on advising clients.

Students Create Program that Outpaces Human Predictions

Could AI go even further, to actually evaluate cases?

That’s what four Cambridge law students wanted to find out. They built an artificial intelligence program called “Case Cruncher Alpha,” and then tested it against human lawyers. Both the computer and the humans were given facts from 775 payment protection insurance mis-selling cases. They were then tasked with predicting whether the financial ombudsman would allow a claim.

Results showed that the computer was better at predicting the outcome—it’s predictions were accurate 86.6 percent of the time, according to the BBC News, while the lawyers were accurate 66.3 percent of the time.

Does this sort of result spell doom for legal professionals? Maybe not right away, as there are early forays into the legal tech arena. But even lawyers themselves think that change is on the horizon. But, either way, there is legal work that AI will not be able to emulate.

AI Likely to Eventually Cut Into Legal Jobs

In another study from LawGeex, researchers pitted an AI contract review platform against 20 human attorneys.

All were tasked with reviewing non-disclosure agreements and spotting risks within them. Results showed that the AI finished with an average accuracy rating of 94 percent, while the lawyers achieved an average of 85 percent.

When it came to speed, the gap widened: the lawyers took about 92 minutes on average to finish the contracts. The AI needed only 26 seconds.

Some lawyers see the technology as a good thing.

The AI may one day take time-consuming administrative tasks off their plates, allowing them to focus more on their clients and other bigger issues. But there is no doubt that as these systems permeate the legal industry, fewer lawyers will be required for “Big Law” corporate work.

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