Artificial Intelligence means something totally different to the average person from what it meant a decade ago. What used to be sci fi is now fully here. Synthetical programs are improving every day that can simulate the scrutiny and experience of the legal professional. Specifically in contract drafting and review, there’s no doubt that some people will find it cheaper and more efficient to outsource their contract needs to algorithms. I struggle to blame them. Plug in your terms, personalize your template, even consider the risks and opportunities. AI will be able to do this. In some ways, it already can. However, this doesn’t spell certain doom. Any permanence by human practitioners will need to be earned.
In a transaction, it is not just an equation with Party A and Party B and a few variables. There is a Person behind Party A, often several, with full histories of people, their goals and values, that came before them. And same for Party B.
I believe AI could help someone ‘win’ a contract. One thing Artificial Intelligence cannot do (yet) is empathize. To get to know a client and their unique and evolving goals. To compromise. To communicate with sensitivity and to react with relationships in mind. I believe a human is better equipped to write a contract that could be easy to honor, to celebrate a client’s goals, to creatively imagine risks and to be willing to change their mind, to offer flexible and affordable services based on a Client’s situation and needs.
I cannot say for sure what the role of attorneys will be in an automatic future. At best, I can predict, which is a fancy word for guessing and a softer science than the weather. I am also ruled by my bias against becoming obsolete. These technologies are tools, made to make our lives easier to fill a perceived need. Attorneys have historically done a lot to preserve the profession, sometimes by changing the very rules that they allegedly understand. Still, I fail to find a way to legislate our way out of this wide-open Pandora’s Box.
Instead, the path forward is to adapt. To emphasize the human element in law. To be patient and attentive. To hear a person, actually. To value efficiency but to value the other stuff too.
If we lose these jobs to the robots, it’s because we were robots first and they’re better at it.