I am calling for an official moratorium on the term Artificial Intelligence in relation to the law! Everyone please just stop using it. It's a needlessly charged word that only confuses and clouds the underlying issues whenever it comes up.
From now on any time you feel the need to use the term Artificial Intelligence, replace it with Automation. No seriously, they're exactly the same thing, at least as far as the current legal market is concerned. Whereas, AI carries connotations of 'robot lawyers' replacing people, Automation seems friendly, simple, even mundane. That's good. Automation is the future of legal practice.
My friend Ron Friedmann posted a Twitter poll last week that got my hackles up.
Come on people! Really? Collaboration software!? Biggest impact on legal market in next 3 years? Do people even read the question before they start ticking boxes?Which tech will have most impact on legal market in next 3 years? [Reply to suggest other choices for next poll]— ronfriedmann (@ronfriedmann) November 26, 2015
Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of collaboration software. I firmly believe that modern collaboration tools are a fundamental requirement for any modern law firm, akin to a document management system, a productivity suite, and maybe a handful of lawyers. But the 'most impact on legal market'? Tech that has been widely available for 10 years, that everyone is already using, even if IT or firm management frowns on it. I don't think so.
The correct answer, and the one that was chosen by a majority of respondents, is Automation. I know, Automation wasn't officially a choice, but look at the options again. AI/Machine Learning and Contract Analytics collectively received 58% of the votes. Contract Analytics is a form of AI/Machine Learning and they should have both been listed as Automation tools.
Woo hoo! Ron's readers aren't dumb, they just got a little confused by the options. Easy to do, when the confounding term AI rears it's ugly head.
This was all bouncing around in my head yesterday when I saw the following article on Bloomberg BNA.
In the latest sign that more and more legal services are being automated, Akerman has announced it will operate a data center that allows corporate clients to quickly look up data privacy and security regulations without having to consult a human lawyer.Look at that. The beauty of it. The simplicity. The near total lack of hysteria about robots stealing jobs. And guess what words don't even appear in the article: Artificial and Intelligence.
But you know what that article is about? The biggest impact on the legal market in the next 3 years.
Automation. Or as I like to call it, the creation of Legal Engines, by Legal Engineers, to automate the practice of law one task at a time.
If only someone had foreseen that such a thing might happen.