Robot Lawyers - The next legal frontier

“What’s the next legal frontier?”  

When you’re a legal futurist it’s a question you hear on a frequent basis. When and where are technology and the practice of law next going to collide with one another, and what are the implications for those in the legal profession, for business and for the man on the street?    

In the past this sort of question may have given me pause for thought. After all, as Peter Drucker once said: “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window”. Thankfully you don’t have to look too far back to see where it has already intersected or down the road to see where the tech and law are going to cross paths in the future. Over the next few years we’re going to witness the rise of fully automated intelligent legal services that will become mainstream. As a prelude to this, we’re going to experience a range of robot lawyers that will fundamentally change the way the average person can have affordable self-help, self-serve access to quality legal insight and documentation. This is happening now. 

That may not come as too much of a surprise. Artificial intelligence and robots are becoming an increasingly familiar fixture in our day-to-day lives, both at home thanks to tools such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as well as in the workplace. No industry is insulated from this change, even the legal world. Spend a few minutes browsing the internet and you’ll soon discover that there are already robot lawyers that are out there changing the way ordinary people interact with legal services.    

I strongly believe that this technology is going to benefit consumers, businesses and law firms. That’s why we developed LISA, the world’s first impartial and unbiased AI-powered robot lawyer that provides objective support, delivers bespoke, legally sound non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) at absolutely no cost for users on opposite sides of a legal matter to self-help together; negating two sets of human lawyers ergo two sets of time and cost. The reception since launch in April from around the globe has shown us that this is a service the business world and consumers have been crying out for, and that the robot lawyer revolution is only just beginning.  

But why are tools like LISA gaining traction among businesses and consumers? AI-powered lawyers are changing the way that businesses are protected and legally supported. At the moment there are a lot of people who are so alienated by the impenetrable nature of the legal world and human lawyer behaviour that they’re not seeking any sort of protection. It should be obvious to everyone within the profession that while law is complicated, giving the consumer access to the most basic of legal services and insight need not be. Understanding how we create pathways for consumers to protect themselves opens up a world of opportunity for firms.  

Access to these sort of services is particularly problematic for small business owners, for entrepreneurs, whether they’re young students, seasoned or serial, and for burgeoning startups. These people need quality basic legal knowledge, insight, guidance and support to progress their ideas. However, they often find themselves in situations where lack of time and money makes liaising with legal experts to acquire insight and to get these documents in place more stressful than it really should be. The result? This ‘latent legal buyer in need’ goes to ground. 

It’s impossible to know the true scale of the latent legal buyer market, but studies show that in the USA 80% of businesspeople don’t use a human lawyer. In the UK, 54% of all SMEs and 33% of consumers muddle on unrepresented. In addition to time and cost, individuals in this situation often point to the lack of availability and inconvenience when it comes to accessing these services, legalese and a desire for independence as to why they go it alone.  

The result of all this? A lot of self-made hacked together inadequate documents that don’t offer businesses and individuals the protection they sorely need. That template confidentiality agreement, delivered as a form for you to fill in, purchased from the shelves of your local retail store, can be out of date, or maybe you use basic document automation processes online discovered when searching after a long day of client and investor meetings, which lacks human lawyer guidance and legal insight? I’m sorry to say it’s probably not worth the paper it’s written on. 

Despite this, the legal profession is booming. How can that be if people are actively avoiding going to see lawyers in the numbers they are? Well, that’s because time spent creating documentation like NDAs can be spent much better elsewhere. This is an essential legal service, something which law firms will always provide, however it requires manpower which is time consuming to churn out these basic legal agreements.   

Going forward in order to provide legal value to disgruntled consumers and businesses that currently use human lawyers, and solve the problem of the legally unrepresented, underserved and neglected, the answer lies in solutions like LISA; a hybrid human and machine system knowledge engineered with reasoning, insight and judgment built in.   

Technical products and services in the form of robot lawyers like LISA are available at all hours, intelligent, fast, free and insightful in a commercial and consumer context. They use decades of human legal knowledge, intelligence and experience, are easy to use for the uninitiated who can cut straight to the heart of a legal matter and come to an agreement as quickly possible. They are going to be vital, not only for hard working entrepreneurs, but the legal professional with a pile of work on his or her desk.    

LISA is also working with the next generation of lawyers to make sure that they're prepared for the impact of emerging technology on their profession. We’re delighted to have been able to team up with the University of Westminster and its Law School, one of the leading institutions in the UK in the field of technology and the law. This partnership will help their students understand how AI-powered solutions like LISA work and how they as lawyers can best use them.    

This doesn’t end at NDAs by the way. Tomorrow’s legal practitioners and entrepreneurial legal service providers are going to be able to intelligently automate a lot more than they already are currently due to the variety of technologies available ranging from the rudimentary to the highly sophisticated. Examples include chatbots, robotic automation systems, expert systems, cognitive computing and machine learning tools. All have their value when deployed and used by consumers, ‘solopreneurs’ or multi-national conglomerates. But what makes them useful in solving real problems for consumers and businesses  just as LISA does, resides in the imagination of the new legal service creators in how they use these technologies and their willingness and ability to go there.    

In addition to LISA’s technology, which is powered by Neota Logic’s AI platform, the chatbot technologies used by LawBot-X, DoNotPay and other services have demonstrated just how powerful existing and emerging technology is going to be in shaping the future of not just the legal industry, but every area of society. LawBot-X, DoNotPay and LISA all offer entirely different yet complimentary services to many people who truly need a variety of legal services that were not possible at such reach or scale with omnipresent allure.    

In the next few months, the team at LISA plan to reveal new partnerships and a range of new AI tools for students, businesses and consumers. The technology is here to bridge the gap between people who don’t have the resource to afford time critical and quality legal insight from human lawyers, and a legal industry that would much rather spend its time looking at the bigger picture. Preparing the profession and industry for this dramatic change, and ensuring that it is ready to engage with this technology in a way that is beneficial to business, is the next major challenge.    

We’re up for it at Robot Lawyer LISA. Are you? 

Chrissie Lightfoot,   Co-Founder and CEO, Robot Lawyer lisa

Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock