Technology is advancing at a rate that is increasing exponentially. Other industries are moving faster to adopt tech into their business than the legal industry. What was once fanciful is becoming real. Self-driving cars are just one thing that comes to mind, but robotics is invading every industry. And technology is being developed to take over legal tasks.
Alternative Legal Service Providers (“ALSPs”) are popping up everywhere. Large accounting firms are using tech to perform traditional legal services 23% of large law firms surveyed in a recent report by Thomson Reuters said that they had lost expected client business to one of the Big Four accounting firms.
This move to tech is best characterized by the increased use of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). Although difficult to define, AI is simply the ability of a computer program or a machine to think and learn and mimics human cognition. It makes computers “smart” by working on their own without being encoded with commands. Best example is when IBM’s Watson beating a world chess champion in 1997 and won in Jeopardy in 2011.
With all of this in mind, the ABA Science and Technology Section submitted a report to the ABA House of Delegates earlier this year tried to address some of the questions presented by the use of artificial intelligence in the legal practice and the ethical issues presented by the use of AI in law firms. Some of these uses include the use of predictive coding (“TAR”) in e-discovery, due diligence reviews, legal research and document review. The Report stated: “But while AI offers cutting-edge advantages and benefits, it also raises questions implicating professional ethics.”
The ABA adopted the following resolution after considering the Report:
“RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges courts and lawyers to address the emerging ethical and legal issues related to the usage of artificial intelligence (“AI”) in the practice of law including: (1) bias, explainability, and transparency of automated decisions made by AI; (2) ethical and beneficial usage of AI; and (3) controls and oversight of AI and the vendors that provide AI.”
The resolution is nothing more than a recognition of the issues confronting the organized bar going forward in the increasingly complex world where technology creates new issues that law needs to confront. The legal profession must adapt to the changes that tech is bringing to the world. Lawyers will face more issues as tech invades every aspect of our lives.
 John McCarthy came up with the name “artificial intelligence” in 1955. https://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence#/search