First Published 7 Feb 2019
An Australian-based legal technology company has built a prototype virtual lawyer using Amazon’s Alexa platform. It is not a secret that technology is changing the way that we live and work. But could this be proof that lawyers are one step closer to being replaced with ‘robot lawyers’?
According to an article in the Lawyers Weekly, a company called Smarter Drafter has developed the world’s first virtual lawyer which creates legal documents instantly, producing work which is similar to that of a human lawyer. The virtual tool operates by asking the questions that a real lawyer would ask and then creates the legal documents based on the answers provided. In practice, the virtual tool works by guiding the user through the legal decision that needs to be covered and then drafting the advanced legal document in minutes.
The system is able to draft documents relating to estate planning and trusts, corporate and commercial, finance and property and employment, to mention just a few. Although the system has been built for Australian law firms, it is only a matter of time before we see more firms in the UK adopting similar tools. While the legal industry has been known in the past for being hesitant to change, we will probably be seeing much more of such advancements in 2019. Improvements in technology will mean that the efficiency of firms as businesses will increase and, in a way, the accuracy of the services provided will also be increased, as such tools will arguably reduce the chance of human error.
The worry for most of us who are upcoming lawyers is whether this development will mean that it will become even more difficult to find employment. It is fair to say that the result of things such as the automation of low-value work (eg, repetitive legal paperwork which in the past may have been passed down to a paralegal or legal assistant to undertake), may no longer be required to be attended to by junior members. Although some would argue that there will always be a need for someone to operate the machine, this does not weaken the fact that competition for legal jobs will inevitably become even tougher than it already is.
However, although the world is evolving, I would argue that clients will always prefer to deal with actual human lawyers than robots.