Technologies in the legal sector ensured a new level of development. From optimizing services to attracting new customers – technology is enthusiastically welcome everywhere. Even few years ago at legal conferences, it seemed that neither Western nor Ukrainian partners were up to discuss technology, yet now it is a key topic of the meetings. To be precise, implementation and practical application are at the agenda. There are fewer ethical questions and attempts to understand how technological leaps will change our industry. I consider new tools as opportunities, but despite this, I still think that we should approach the process critically.
Artificial intelligence is created by human, which means that it contains all our ethical presets and flaws. For the legal business, being attentive to such nuances is especially important, since the judicial system is the measure of justice. Conservatism and unwillingness to react quickly to changes for a long time were the main factors in protecting the legal business. Now everything is changing too rapidly, and we do not even have time to understand what exactly is happening.
To illustrate, I will give an example from a non-legal sphere, but associated with it, like everything else in society. Already, facial recognition systems are widely criticized for failing to recognize black people properly. This is especially dangerous in the case of unmanned vehicles. Is this racism conscious? Most likely not, but the problem is serious if scientists forget about such details at the design stage. This illustration shows that even the most advanced developments can be layered on long-standing stereotypes that are not evident at first sight. The peculiarity of the legal sphere is that all issues should be provided for in advance, because then they can lead at best to financial losses, and possibly to more fatal problems.
Legal practitioners face the following challenge: how to move forward “without losing their luggage”; how to gain speed without losing focus and criticality, how to upgrade themselves knowing the purpose of this upgrade. Now, it seems to me, the legal business is at the stage of technological euphoria, when many technologies are being introduced under pressure from the market or from a desire to conform to the development in other industries. I am sure that some of them will disappear over time, as redundant. As well as they might appear again, but at a new level. One of the clearest examples is chat bots. This solution is being introduced literally everywhere, but in Western markets, lawyers are already skeptical about it and advise to use it very precisely. This yet imperfect technology more often frustrates clients than helps them.
I do not think that lawyers should be retrogrades. By no means. Rather, experts should make an effort to be not just users of technologies, but to influence their development. Of course, there are lawyers in technology companies, but I’m talking about a wider role, including ethics in the discussion and creating solutions that are fair and useful to all people. We have indeed new solutions at our disposal that will allow us to be more accessible, more active, more mobile, and to solve many issues in a matter of days rather than years. Yes, the legal industry requires updates and it’s great they are coming. The challenge is to remain lawyers.