Ethical Factors To Artificial Intelligence In The Legal Industry

June 12, 2018

Artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, has great potential to increase efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings within the legal industry. But the ability to make decisions autonomously without any human involvement has caused concern in some legal circles as to the ethical implications. Specifically, a literal artificial decision does not apply the same critical thinking, intuition, and professional judgement traditionally practiced by a seasoned lawyer.  

While the point is valid, it is important to first consider how AI is transforming routine tasks in legal firms. AI in a law practice would use rules based logic developed with attorneys to abbreviate labor intensive tasks, such as contract review, where items of concern would be brought to the attention of a practicing lawyer for review.

How AI is Being Used in the Legal Industry

In this profession, AI is rapidly emerging as an innovative way to focus on repetitive tasks and lower costs while increasing the probability of outcomes. Some of the ways that AI is currently being applied to manage legal tasks include:

· Technology Assisted Review · Due Diligence
· Legal Research · Legal writing
· Electronic Billing · Contract Review
· Doc/Contract Automation · Translation
· Document Creation · Judge Direction
· Win Rates · DMS/Email Mgmt

Similar to the way email completely changed the way law firms do business, AI will soon become an ever-present,  “indispensable assistant to practically every legal professional,” writes Hilgers Graben, senior counsel, Sterling Miller. In addition to containing costs, legal professionals who embrace AI will ultimately find themselves with more time to focus on analyzing cases, advising their clients and higher-level tasks.

Legal Ethics and AI

“Many lawyers are predictably opposed to the utilization of AI and, for some legal matters, there will be little choice other than to leverage human expertise. However, AI will likely automate other laborious processes and services, and the field itself will eventually have to shift,” writes Edgar Alan Rayo of TechEmergence.

“AI must be developed in a way that promotes transparency and fairness, that’s available to all, and that doesn’t reinforce existing inequalities,” writes Mark MacCarthy of the Software & Information Industry Association. While it would be very difficult, and likely impossible to pass new laws and regulations to wholly regulate AI, “we may need to throw a regulatory net around specific applications of these techniques,” MacCarthy says. “Using machine learning isn’t a get out of jail free card. You can’t say, for example, ‘I’m using AI, so I don’t need to live up to fair lending laws.’”

There is a strong, complicated relationship between ethics and law, but as technology rapidly advances, the law sometimes struggles to keep up. Lawyers will need to play a critical role in and around AI. And as AI continues to spread, new regulations and laws need to be drafted, and attorneys have an ethical obligation to factor its limitations and liabilities into the legal advice they provide.

As technology advances, the need for ethical guidance will only become greater. Partners like All Covered, Konica Minolta’s IT services division, help law firms like yours leverage modern technology to improve efficiency without ignoring ethical obligations. For more information, contact All Covered’s Legal Practice today.

Marco Maggio
Vice President, IT Services Sales & Strategic Practices

Marco Maggio leads the commercial sales force for the United States as well as the Legal, Education and Healthcare Practices within Konica Minolta’s IT Services organization. Prior to joining Konica Minolta, he held executive leadership positions at technology organizations such as Lanier, Mosaic, Ricoh and Hewlett Packard. Marco is a frequent speaker for legal industry associations and a regularly published author for technology relevant to key vertical industries.