Queen’s roundtable on impact of AI on law in the next decade


Artificial Intelligence (AI) promises to bring big changes to the practice of law as well as improvements to access to justice, and increased affordability of legal services. It seems every month new applications are released that take advantage of ever faster computers and the ability to learn from data without explicit programming (see some of our earlier posts on AI: Ryerson AI Challenge, Blue J Legal releases AI software, AI outperforms lawyers).

Queen’s Law recently convened a panel of distinguished alumnae to provide insights on the impact of AI for the legal profession in the next decade. Participants included Professor Art Cockfield, Janet Fuhrer, Jordan Furlong, Jeff Fung, and Addison Cameron-Huff.

Topics included:

  • How do you think AI will be used in the legal profession over the next 10 years?
  • How do you think an IBM Watson-powered lawyer will have an impact on the legal profession?
  • Do you think AI will terminate jobs for lawyers, create new ones, or both?
  • What opportunities do you foresee for junior lawyers in a profession that could be revolutionized by AI?
  • How should junior lawyers be taught to harness new technologies?
  • Do you agree with Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk that AI could someday overtake humans?

Some of the insights included:

  • Change will likely be driven by parties other than law firms, such as clients, start-ups, and competitors to law firms. An example of an alternative approach is this service that provides a self-guided divorce over the Internet: wevorce.com.
  • On the question of whether AI will terminate jobs for lawyers, it was noted that augmentation rather than automation may be the future. A lawyer augmented with more information and analysis is likely to be more effective.
  • Figuring out what clients need and want is an essential skill for delivering legal services and one that is not likely to be replaced by computers.
  • There is natural resistance to change in the legal profession. However, change is occurring on multiple fronts and technology-related change may accompany change in rules and regulations that govern the profession, for example as legal services are unbundled.

To view the entire discussion, visit How will artificial intelligence affect the legal profession in the next decade?.

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