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Lawyers must embrace artificial intelligence or risk irrelevance
Source: Mojo PR for Support Legal , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Tue February 27, 2018 12:51 pm

UAE. The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is radically transforming the legal profession and the industry must fast learn to harness this technology or risk losing relevance, according to Lee McMahon, Co-Founder & Principal of Support Legal.

As computers mature in their capacity to simulate human intelligence and decision-making, lawyers will need to adapt quickly, with combined legal and coding skills proving extremely valuable in coming years.

This was the sentiment shared at a Thomson Reuters Business Breakfast held Wednesday, 14th February, which focused on legal automation. Attended by members of the profession, the session included a panel discussion with industry experts Mark Beer, Co-Chief Executive and Registrar General of DIFC Courts; Justine Reeves, Clyde & Co; Jack Hardman, Clifford Chance; and Foutoun Hajjar, Al Tamimi; and finished with McMahon’s discussion with Thomson Reuter’s Paresh Khushal.

McMahon stated: “Technical know-how is fast becoming a critical component of law, but legal technology is only as good as experienced lawyers sitting with the developer helping them break down complex legal thought processes into automated workflows. As more and more elements of the legal profession turn to automation and AI, the role of the lawyer as we know it will look fundamentally different.”

“Clients no longer want to pay for full manual labour under the billable hour, but they aren’t inclined to trust the fate of their businesses with full automation either. There must be a marrying of lawyers with technology. Coding should become part of the law degree, or at the very least, lawyers need to hire developers as part of their legal team.”

McMahon’s sentiments were shared by Mark Beer who highlighted the need for the education system to incorporate new teachings for upcoming lawyers, and for mature lawyers to undergo retraining to understand this new future.

McMahon continued: “Traditionally, law has been an inherently inefficient industry as the billable hour ensured those who stayed in the office latest were often met with reward. But with document automation and the adoption of artificial intelligence allowing large volume document reviews, this time-saving can translate into cost savings for clients while affording lawyers the time to engage in the more satisfying, creative, strategic, human-specific work of legal representation.”

Likening the disruption of AI in the legal industry to the introduction of Excel for accountancy, McMahon discussed the rate of technological adoption as a threat to some of the larger and less agile law firms. The ethics of automation were also discussed, with attendees questioning the disputing of AI decisions and accountability if or when a computer gets it wrong.

“While AI has the capability of solving a higher number of cases and removing the inherent biases of judges, the introduction of new and unchartered technology is not without its challenges. AI has great potential to focus on solving commodity based problems, but its rapid industry-wide adoption must be governed at a higher level by humans with the emotional, rational capacity to determine if the system has made a mistake,” explained McMahon.

These views echoed sentiments shared during last week’s World Government Summit in Dubai, where AI and the impact on jobs was widely discussed. At the event, Futurizon’s Ian Pearson was recorded stating that “Artificial intelligence could be ‘billions of times smarter’ than humans and that people may need to merge with computers to survive.” 

Support Legal agrees, the legal profession is no exception.

Photo Captions:
1. (above)  Lee McMahon, Co-Founder & Principal of Support Legal
2. (inset)   For illustrative purposes only (File photo)

About Support Legal
Support Legal is a new legal services platform for entrepreneurs and emerging companies that is leading the innovation of the legal sector in the Middle East & Africa region. Unlike traditional law firms, we do not charge our time by the hour. We work primarily on the basis of a subscription model: clients pay a set monthly fee and receive unlimited service within the boundaries of the engagement.

Think of Spotify or Netflix but for legal services. In addition, we offer fixed fees (agreed up front) for defined scopes of work. The price we agree when we start work is the price clients pay for that work. It's that simple. We keep fees low by adopting a model that mitigates costs: making use of rapidly developing technologies and harnessing the demand for flexible working and work/life balance amongst the senior lawyers who work with us. Off the clock and on your side. Welcome to Support Legal. Same Law, Different Thinking.

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