ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: THE LAWYERS PERSPECTIVE
BY: MBANG CONFIDENCE, ESQ.
BEING A LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE VIRTUAL INTERNSHIP ON TECHNOLOGY AND ORGANIZED BY FEMALE LAW STUDENTS’ FORUM (FLF) IN COLLABORATION WITH THE WEST AFRICAN LAW STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION (WALSA).
23RD MARCH, 2023.
The emergence of the fourth revolution, otherwise called industry 4.0, has been a major issue of discourse. The revolution takes off from the industry 3.0 (otherwise called third industrial revolution), which literally deals with advance information and communication technology.
The industry 4.0 is an all encompassing revolution, with sweeping effects in basically all the sectors, the idea being the use of Artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, virtual reality, amongst others.
The radical, disruptive and futuristic approach of the 4th revolution comes with blessings, as well threats in nearly all the sectors, ranging from health, engineering, mechanics, production, distribution, finances, legal and sundry matters.
One of the perculiar driving force is Artificial intelligence. This simply implies the use of man made intelligence to operate as human beings. While the system has been applauded for it changes, ease of work and convenience, it has also suffered disapproval and wide rejection for being a threat for the displacement of man in the daily affairs of progress. In other words, man may be rendered jobless by the adoption of Artificial intelligence.
This paper focuses on the lawyers perspective of Artificial intelligence, and its impact on legal practice.
2.0 MEANING OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The phrase Artificial intelligence, would best be understood when taken word by word. Artificial means man made, while intelligence connotes the ability to acquire and apply knowledge or skills. Therefore Artificial intelligence is the acquisition and application of knowledge through man made device.
Alan Turing, best knownforcrackingtheNaziEnigmacodeduringWorldWarII,wasthefirsttopopularizeaconcepthecalled“thinkingmachines.”Butitwasn’tuntilafewyearslaterthatcomputerscientistJohnMcCarthyofficiallycoinedtheterm“artificialintelligence.”
Thatdefinitionisstillrelevantthesedays,butsuchawideandcomplexconceptcanhardlybesummedupinasinglesentence.That’swhy,inthe1990s,StuartRussellandPeterNorvigpublishedtheseminalAItextbook,“ArtificialIntelligence:AModernApproach.” In theirbook,RussellandNorvigbrokedownAIdevelopmentintotwodifferentapproaches.Firstisthehumanapproach,whichinvolvesdevelopingmachinesthatthinkandactlikehumans.Ontheotherhand,theideologicalapproachtoAIinvolvesdevelopingmachinesthatthinkandactrationally.
According DataRobot CEO, Jeremy Achin, in his speech at the Japan AI Experience, 2017, ” AI is a computer system able to perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence… Many of these artificial intelligence systems are powered by machine learning; some of them are powered by deep learning and very boring things like rules power see of them.” AI is therefore tht branch of computer science that deals with the reproduction of mimicking of human-level intelligence, self awareness, knowledge, and thought in computer programmes.”
3.0 THE PROCESS
AI works through a process, it is called machine learning. Machine learning has also been used to refer to Artificial intelligence, but it is more convenient to refer to it as an integral part of the process. Just like human intelligence increases through hard work, time and continues assimilation, AI develops through machine learning.
The process is simple, datasets are provided to the machine, the machine goes through an initial training period, where it tries to complete it’s task and is given feedback on it’s performance. It is the algorithm that incorporates feedback from data gathered, making it increasingly accurate, and commercially viable. For example, an self driving car should be able to observe the traffic light as humans, where the situation is complicated, the data should provide for alternatives accordingly.
READ ALSO: ANATOMIZING JUDICIAL IMMUNITY: NIGERIA IN PERSPECTIVE
4.0 CLASSIFICATION OF AI
The classification of AI is based on it’s capacity and functionality.
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence
This are weak intelligence that around us, and have contributed greatly to the development of Nations. It has limited memory Space, or it is reactive (meaning it has no storage or memory capacity). For this reasons, it reacts to stimuli like humans. Examples are; Self driving cars, Drone Robots, Google’s Rankbrain, Netflix, Amazon’s Alexa etc.
- Artificial General Intelligence
This are deep and strong AI, very advance. This AI can solve human tasks, they think and understand like humans. They mimic human actions and even go beyond that, by learning how to understand humans accurately. They have minds like humans. However, humans proceed to perfect this AI, they have been caught by some obvious difficulty; the deep AI lacks the capacity to move and use the sight like humans. It would be practically impossible to achieve this within the next decades.
- Artificial Super Intelligence
This AI goes beyond mimicking human beings. It surpasses human capacity and ability. According to Nick Bostrom, he views ASI as,” an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom, and social skills.”
ASI goes beyond humans, for instance there are fictional works where Robots threatens to take over the human race, like Interstellar, metropolis etc. This type of AI would not be achieved in the darkest decades to come, AI is still in it’s initial stages. This is what should trigger the minds of every conscious human being to think ahead.
- Automatic Reminders
Automation is simply the breaking down of legal procedures or duties traditionally handles by legal practitioners by the means of technology. It uses advanced sophistication. It is used in documents review and due diligence operations in Agreements. Legal contracts, form letters, reminders etc.
- Contract Review
The task of contract review and preservation of several documents is painstaking. A law firm with large files would find it very difficult. AI offers an easy and efficient way to do this task. However, it is a hybrid of technological amd manual labor.
- Ease of legal research
This is the most common impact of AI. Lawyers and legal firms now have unparalleled access to information about cases, this is a shift from the analog era. This makes research easy, and creates avenue to understand major aspects of law and the attitude of Courts. It builds confidence in your case and the client as you proceed.
- Elimination of time Consuming tasks.
Many of the lawyers job are routine paper jobs, this has diverted lawyers work from planning strategic steps ahead. AI and automation can take over 40% of this work everyday.
This is one of the most basic and widely used Al in law: checking digital information to collect non-priviledged data on a case or claim. E.g, Kira System enables lawyers to detect, retrieve and evaluate data contained in huge volumes of contracts. It generates contract summary chrts for merger and acquisition due diligence. JP Morgan has usde an AI-powered COIN program to decipher commercial loan agreements in few minutes.
READ ALSO: UNDERSTANDING THE JURISDICTION OF THE ECONOMIC COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE AND IT’S ROLE IN PROMOTING COOPERATION, PEACE AND JUSTICE AMONG IT’S MEMBER STATE
- Case Analysis Research Assistant (CARA).
Developed by case text, it analyses citations an lists specific suggested cases that are not explicitly cited in a document. Lawyers use same to find relevant agencies and analysis possible cases opposing counsel may use in a case.
- High Quality Work
AI can produce error free work, improve document organization, including all internal cross-references.Contract comparison tolls detect terminology, ambiguous terms etc.
- Accurate Result prediction
Lawyers are tactical, a lawyer may predict the outcome of a case upon briefing alone. AI Companies are developing machines to detect cases outcome. Some machines detect taxes accurately, litigation skills and settlement negotiations.
Others are; Accurate Risk Assessment, Efficient and accurate background checking, Reduced stress of legal professionals, Remote work of facility
- Professionals may experience unemployment
The replacement of manual work by AI is an enigma, it has caused so many fears and discomfort within Professionals. AccordingtoDeloitte,about100,000legal-relatedjobscanbeautomatedby2036.AccordingtorecentDeloitteInsightresearch,“technologyhasalreadyledtoalossof31,000positionsinthelegalsector,buttherehasbeenanoverallriseofaround80,000jobs,themajorityofwhicharehigherqualifiedandbettercompensated,”inthelegalfieldspecifically. But it has been argued it would allow for development of high skilled Professionals (lawyers/firms).
- Only big law firms can afford AI
Relatively smaller firms may not have the financial strength to adopt the new technology. Therefore, those law firms that can afford AI can become richer while others cannot.
Some law firms are so under-equiped even inthis analog era, not to imagine the sophistry that would emerge upon full scale AI operation.
- Machines cannot be trustworthy
Minor damage to the machine or software can create a huge mess. Though AI could hypothetically be without error, there’s still no guarantee of a device or software being error-free. In the case of law firms, the potential damage could create havoc. The company has to bear the cost of installation in such a scenario. There are no rules or regulations to monitor AI tools. Plus, AI can’t listen, empathize, advocate, or understand politics.
- Vulnerable to cyber threats
Another cause for anxiety is privacy and cybersecurity, which is understandable. According to recent research conducted by a malpractice insurer, cyberattacks affected 22% of legal firms. The victims were more well-known figures in the industry than you might anticipate, but smaller businesses are not immune. According to the American Bar Association, this proportion was 35 percent among legal companies with 10 to 49 practitioners, implying that more than a third of small law businesses had been hacked.
Rather than being a liability, AI, according to CSO, adds to the fight against the continual threat of cyberattacks. AI technology incorporates self-learning algorithms that allow it to better recognize and foresee possible risks in ways that humans cannot.
This a popular AI chatbot, that enables a user to enter a text prompt and gets feedback of an intelligent ouput, spearheading for conversation. ChatGPT is more detailed and versatile than any other other similar platform.
ChatGPT is one of the most recent major developments in artificial intelligence, released in November 2022. It was developed by a company called OpenAI, this advanced chatbot instantly made headlines for its dynamic and seemingly intelligent responses to users’ prompts.
ChatGPT is majorly a chatbot, meaning users can engage in a conversation about a wide range of topics, such as personal hobbies, interests, or current events.
It can also generate a variety of different text-based material, like emails, advertisements, or entire stories. It even answers questions on potentially complex topics like science, technology, and history, making it helpful for completing homework or research projects. It can also tell jokes, suggest movies, TV shows, and books, and give advice on personal anecdotes. It can correct its own mistakes, ask follow-up questions, and often get into the finer details of a specific topic.
The tone and content of ChatGPT’s responses can be influenced by the user. For example, one can ask ChatGPT to generate responses in an upbeat, positive tone. Its response would be different than if one were to specify a cynical, negative tone. But maybe most impressively, ChatGPT can write and debug computer code. When presented with 40 pieces of incorrect code, researchers found that ChatGPT successfully corrected 19 of them – a success rate of just under 50%.
What sets ChatGPT apart from other automated debugging methods is that programmers can follow-up with questions. This allows ChatGPT to check its work and correct any mistakes. This helped ChatGPT reach a 77% success rate.
Despite its impressive abilities, ChatGPT is still a limited memory AI system. It is unique from other chatbots because it can call on past answers to update its current output. Unfortunately, it’s limited to a single medium: text-based chat. That makes it a form of narrow or “weak” AI.
7.0 AREAS FOR FUTURE USES OF AI
- Mergers and Acquisitions
Al could be used to for due diligence processing, reporting and documentation. It can also be used for finding clauses in multiple documents and get project management and reporting assistance.
- Legal Procedures: AI is the fastest means to carry out searches and overview. It has proven to be superb in this area.
- Reorganization of the Group: AI can be used to locate contracts that need to be renegotiated.
- Real Estate Investments: AI can be used to extract and compare data in leases. It can get a quick summary of the contracts’ deadlines and differences.
8.0 AI AND THE FUTURE OF THE CONSERVATIVE LEGAL PRACTICE IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian legal practice has long been beclouded by analog conservatism, this aged practice is still observed by over 90% of law firms in Nigeria. The disruptive nature of AI is inevitable, however, it has been accused of threatening the status quo, and thus suffered rejection.
AI would definitely upset the traditional practice of law. But mind you, just like Lord Denning in Parker v. Parker said, “What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still while the rest of the world goes on, and that will be bad for both.” In fact, in the benchmark case of Lola v. Skadden,the Court held that tasks that could as well be handled by machines are not engagements in legal practice. The implication is that, machines can handled lawyer based task.
Therefore, there is bound to be changes, either you adapt or you die. This trend is spreading all over the World, and Nigeria would not be an exception. Top tier firms are advised to reconsider their service delivery and chances of improving digitally.
According to the lamentations of Ademola, ” law which though shielded by regulations and imbued in tradition might not withstand the sweeping influence of the digital revolution for long”. In Lagos, so many law firms uses Timi the law, an Ai-driven research tool developed by law pavilion to answer questions on the Lagos High Court Civil Procedure Rules. There’s also Judy law, Legal pedia, Hbriefs, LawcareNigeria amongst others.
9.0 THE LAWYERS PREPARATION
AI would transform legal practice forever, it is an error to assume the exile of legal practice by AI, as precieved generally. The only fear is the lost of jobs, but even at that, AI can’t perform all legal task, there are some basic task that demands human ingenuity. Therefore, it behooves on the average lawyer to start preparing for the future, he must break out of conversatism and maintain a growth mindset instead. Lawyers should also endeavor to take international online courses and be committed to learning the nitty-gritty of the lessons.
10.0 SKILLS REQUIRED
There numerous skills required, however, the following are quite intriguing;
- Legal Design thinking skills.
- Project Management skills
- Negotiation & Dispute Resolution skills
- Problem solving skills
- Emotional intelligence skills
- Collaboration skills
11.0 DONOTPAY ME SUIT AND QUALIFICATIONS TO PRACTICE AS A LAWYER
The development of AI in legal practice has led to the creation of a Robot by the Donotpay inc., a company owned by Joshua Browder. The robot is created to carry out small cases in court such as traffic related issues and giving advise to clients. It is billed to to listen to argument in Court and advise clients via earpiece.
The Robot lawyer was sued by the leading Chicago law firm of Edelson PC, who noted that the service delivered by Donotpay are poor and satisfactory, thus leading to lost of cases by individuals. He described it as ‘selling junks’. He argued that the robot was neither a law nor a law firm, therefore, it was not eligible to practice law.
The height of this saga, was when the Robot was billed to represent Jonathan Feridian in a traffic issue. It was reported that, the Edelson filed a class action against it, and recalled so many matters that wee handled unsatisfactorily by the company.
In Nigeria, the requirements for practicing law are that the person or applicant must;
- Be a citizen of Nigeria.
- Provide a qualifying certificate by the Nigerian Law School and satisfy all necessary requirements pursuance thereto.
- Show good character to the Body of Benchers.
- Satisfy the Benchers of good character and all necessary requirements of he is not a citizen of Nigeria.
- Be issued qualifying certificate by the Body of Benchers. See generally section 4 of the Legal Practitioners Act. Any practice without the above requirements becomes an unauthorized pratice of the legal profession pursuance to Rule 3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2007.
On the whole, legal practitioners in Nigeria are admonished to seat up, to move away from the old traditional method of practice and embrass the new system. Law firms should be delibrate in training tech-saavy lawyers, in order to fit into the new trend. There should be regular tech seminars and conference to enlighten lawyers on the need to develop service delivery. The Bench and the Bar should collaborate strongly on the advancement of legal practice, and encourage this system.
It importan to note that Nigeria as a country is not oblivious of this trends, in fact, our courts now carry out virtual sessions/sittings, filing of processes in some courts are basically electronic (due to the emergence of covid), lawyers now have already made process due to automation, some law firms in Nigeria are highly tech inclined. Therefore, contrary to popular views, Nigeria may not be have Cross the rubicon in the world, but we have not been totally lost out of the the 4th revolution.
Thankyou for going through this piece; ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: THE LAWYERS PERSPECTIVE.
1954 All ER 22
620 F. App’x 37(2d Cir. 2015)