A recent article on Futurism.com tells the story of the first artificial intelligence hired by a law firm. The AI, called Ross, is programmed to answer legal questions with up-to-date citations to authority, a job often assigned to entry-level associate attorney positions.
The law firm that hired the AI does primarily bankruptcy, a practice that regularly requires legal research and writing. But how could an AI lawyer benefit a personal injury practice, especially from the perspective of an injured client?
Although our area of practice requires legal research and writing, it does so with much less frequency than bankruptcy law. Most of our legal work involves litigating and trying cases. Taking depositions, picking an impartial jury, examining witnesses and convincing a jury to find in your client's behavior is not something I would be comfortable putting in the "hands" of a machine.
I can see, however, how the AI would help a personal injury lawyer concentrate on trial preparation by tackling the legal issues that come up from time to time in our practice. Legal research and writing, especially for me, requires that I shut my door and block out all distractions so I can focus on the work. Having a machine do that for me would allow me to use that time to prep for trial and strengthen my cases.
Although this AI may be able to replace an an entry-level associate, I don't think it could replace a trial lawyer. Not yet, at least.