There has already been significant discussion of artificial intelligence and its impact on the legal profession. For example, many portend mass layoffs of lawyers as computers take over roles currently handled by attorneys. But in an interesting new article, researchers postulate that artificial intelligence may have another effect – in making lawyers more risk averse. Should in-house counsel prepare for super-sized CYA memos from outside counsel?
“Still, AI will introduce new quandaries by dint of its ability to reveal legal trends or precedents, for example. Fed the right data, machine learning algorithms can tell us how individual judges ruled, how individual companies or lawyers fared in past litigation, or how much money was involved in lawsuits. Pop details of a current case in, and the computer will forecast your chances of success. This approach might be more efficient, but it could slow the evolution of the law, the pair warn. Take the predictions too seriously, too often, and lawyers could be more reluctant to take on cases with the potential to break new ground, making it less likely that landmark judgements will be passed. By the same token, if AI spots a pattern of discrimination – say, that women are more likely to lose in certain types of case – it might sway lawyers’ decisions and so perpetuate the problem rather than bringing it to light.”