Michael Mazzella

Attorney Assistance in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the workplace across all sectors, and the legal profession is no exception. The kneejerk reaction to AI’s infiltration has largely been fear that human professionals will soon be obsolete, and their positions will be filled by synthetic employees that can work around the clock, do not require livable salaries, and complete tasks in a sliver of the time it would take a human to finish. However, as the benefits of utilizing AI in the workplace become increasingly apparent to employers, developers like LawGeex stress that these programs will be used as helpful tools to assist workers, rather than superior replacements to put them out of work.1 Think Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S., not Terminator’s, well . . . Terminator.

A recent, peer-reviewed study shows that the LawGeex AI software outperforms experienced attorneys at reviewing contracts.2 The program, which utilizes a neural network to cross-reference a given contract with a company’s policies and highlight potential issues, was pitted against twenty seasoned corporate attorneys from across the legal field. The AI program was able to successfully identify ninety-four percent of the issues contained within the five sample contracts; comparatively, the average score for the attorneys was eighty-five. More importantly, while the completion time for the attorneys ranged from 51 to 156 minutes, the AI completed its review of all five documents in only 26 seconds.3 Whether a legal practice is concerned with improving accuracy or efficiency, the AI is clearly superior to traditional legal practitioners. Thankfully, although the AI can outperform attorneys in this regard, it is still far from replacing them.

Simply because AI could be implemented in the place of human lawyers does not necessarily imply that it will. Ben Pring, author of What To Do When Machines Do Everything, says, “[w]hat’s most likely to happen, is that most jobs are going to be infused with AI, to take them to the next level.”4 Pring contends that the only jobs in jeopardy of being completely automated are those which are hazardous, monotonous, or repulsive.5 On the other hand, doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, and the like are probably secure in their employment, says Pring, but they can expect to see AI integrated into their professions to streamline mundane, time-consuming tasks.6 Ideally, AI programs like LawGeex will be used to lighten the workload and allow attorneys to focus the time they save on improving the quality of their work, while passing hourly billable savings on to their clients—which is precisely what the program was designed to accomplish.7

The co-founder and CEO of LawGeex, Noory Bechor, was inspired by his own frustration over accomplishing dull legal tasks the old fashioned way. According to Bechor, “[i]t’s very repetitive and mundane, and there was no real technology that helps lawyers do their jobs better and more efficiently. Once you’ve seen hundreds of examples of a specific contract type, the concepts keep repeating themselves. I said, if this is so repetitive, it can be automated.”8 When asked if his creation could be used to replace attorneys altogether, Bechor replied, “[w]e’re not claiming to be more accurate than lawyers all the time and in any type of work, what we are showing is that on the mundane, repetitive, simple stuff, technology can actually do a better job than humans.”9 If Bechor and Pring are correct, integration of AI programs into legal practice will liberate attorneys to focus on creative solutions to complex problems, while technology handles the grunt work.

Technological advancements which allow leaps ahead in workplace productivity have historically been met with fear and disdain, which is exacerbated by the prospect that approximately 80 million American jobs could be lost to technology over the next three decades.10 However, just like the assembly line and Industrial Revolution before it, the introduction of AI into the workplace will ultimately eliminate the portions of the workday that seem to drone on forever, and allow professionals to focus on creating new innovations of their own.

GLTR Staff Member; Georgetown Law, J.D. expected 2018; University of Arizona, B.A. 2015. ©2018, Michael Mazzella.