Last month a long awaited event by all those interested in LegalTech took place at Lille University, France. Announced as one of the most important conferences devoted to technological advancement, the conference attracted great interest from lawyers all over Europe. As a result, five hundred lawyers registered for the conference.
Bearing in mind the impact of new technology on the development of the legal profession and its significance for FBE Bar members Izabela Konopacka (chair of the New Technology Committee) has been instructed by the presidency to take part in the conference.
The conference took place on the last day of November and coincided with the introduction of the European Ethical Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems.
What is AI? What technological legal advancements are available on the market? How to use AI to increase the efficiency and quality of court proceedings? Who bears liability in the situation where AI has made a bad decision? How should the legislator ensure the protection of Human Rights within the context of using automatic systems based on algorithms?
These were just a few of the many questions raised during the conference in Lille.
It goes without saying, that the future environment lawyers are to work in will be greatly affected by LegalTech. Therefore, the fact that some of us are resistant to technological development pales into insignificance in the face of our clients’ expectations. Clients who have become accustomed to instantaneous access to information will determine the range of technological advancements lawyers will implement into their practices. As was already discussed during the conference, the era of increased competition among law firms means that those lacking in technological innovation may face difficulties in finding a place within the legal services market. Thus, local and national Bars are under a duty to provide LegalTech training to its members as the trend to “work smart” instead of “work hard” is going to continue in the coming year – 2019.
Consequently, while the paperless court solution may be an everyday reality for lawyers from Austria and Germany, it is difficult for the majority of us to imagine such a court environment. Here the use of actual paper documents has been reduced to an absolute minimum or completly eliminated by electronic versions.
However, the above situation where attorneys submit electronic documents only and are served with electronic documents by courts via an electronic platform is seemingly acceptable in contrast to court judgments delivered by AI based systems. (referred to as prescriptive justice).
Such AI court solutions, already used by judges in the USA, raise many questions among legal practitioners. One significant question asked by lawyers refers to how much access parties and their attorneys have to this solution. It is not hard to imagine the situation where a defective decision generated by AI is approved and handed down by the court which subsequently is appealed by one of the parties. In such a case it would seem obvious for the parties and their attorneys to have access to the AI system in the sense that the reasoning behind a decision is given by a human judge and is available. Whereas, an AI based decision is derived from programmed situations and algorithms. As has been pointed out, physical courts using AI as well as the AI system itself should be transparent and accessible to all concerned. It is of considerable importance that AI systems should be used in compliance with Human Rights.
Microsoft director Martin Slijkhuis has also presented other LegalTech options which could contribute to greater efficiency for both courts and public bodies as well as legal practices.
Some of the most interesting soultions from a legal practitioner’s perspective were the following:
- software used to anonymise electronic documents to remove any identifying information, which is still readable by the lawyer and client, but not for third parties.
- software designed to read handwritten documents and convert them into electronic and computer-typed documents.
- A solution used to digitalise evidence e.g. where software selects the key issues for the case from video to reduce the evidence to a few minutes instead of a few hours when presented in court.
- Another highly innovative solution and very useful from a legal practitioners point of view is undoubtedly the CARA system based on AI (CARA AI). CARA can not only verify any formal requirements for documents i.e. pleadings and assess whether all the relevant rulings for the case at issue have been presented, but can draft its own documents, for instance, a statement of claim, a defence or any other pleadings required. CARA AI can analyse the legal arguments raised in the pleading as well as make a summary of all the key facts. It may also be used to identify any unfair contractual terms too.
The above solutions aim at improving the efficiency of legal practices and eliminate the routine and mundane . time-consuming tasks from its everyday work, which can be just as well performed by an AI system. Thus, an attorney is able to devote much more time to actual lawyering and building good relationships with their clients.
In summary, it should be noted that the significance of an FBE presence through its representation at the AI Conference in Lille seems unquestionable since it may be in the coming year 2019 which could be revolutionary in terms of the implementation of LegalTech solutions.