Some considerations regarding the incorporation of technological tools in legal practice

La "invasion" or 'massification' of automation and robotics in the workplace has forced us to rethink the way certain jobs are done, and has raised concerns about whether there will be enough jobs in the future for human workers -wondered and erratic- that need them.

So far, much attention has been focused on manual work, since factory assembly lines and warehouses have adopted automated processes more quickly and visibly than other industries. Factory automation evokes a recurring image: robotic arms that assemble parts in cars, mobile robots that handle pallets of goods through distribution centers. In any scenario, the impact on human workers is easy to see.

Contemporary Artificial Intelligence. Vol. 27. Portland: Ringgold, Inc, 2012

What is more difficult to visualize is how similar technology can find its way into aspects of human work that are 'less visible' and not as routine, such as complex decision making, strategic planning and creative thinking.

Until recently, the consensus among researchers seemed to be that workers with higher levels of education would be less affected by automation than those who are 'less qualified'. Now, however, new research suggests that white-collar workers with higher education may also be facing a significant disruption.

In a study published last November by Brookings Institution[1] (Metropolitan Policy Program), the researchers discovered that in the future certain occupations with higher salaries could be more severely impacted by technologies that employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) than previously thought. The study determines, among others, that: (i) professions and occupations linked to manufacturing activities, where the workforce is prime, will be greatly affected; and, (ii) so will the works of White neck: administrative, office activities, including management or management.

While these works are likely to be replaced by AI or simply changed by it, it is still unclear; In some cases, AI may end up assisting human workers instead of doing their job for them. Either way, uncertainty is likely to cause alarm in some circles.

Average exposure to standardization through Artificial Intelligence (AI) - By level of education to 2017

Source: Brookings analysis of Webb (2019) and IPUMS-USA ACS 1-year microdata

Another important aspect in the implementation of technological tools to the legal practice, crosses the reflection not only of if they are suitable for the sector, or of the progress of its implementation, but for the people who carry out this evaluation within the legal departments of the companies or the directory or partners of a law firm.

In this regard, it should be noted that, notwithstanding this, companies should worry about not disappearing since, as indicated by the Digital Vortex report: How Digital is Redefining Industries, the digital transformation will displace 40% of companies from the market.[2]

The digital transformation, consequently, would have more to do with people than with technology, since it is they who allow, or not, that the transformation be carried out. The digital transformation is strongly linked to innovation. To be innovative, you need leaders who are at the service of people, empowering human collaboration and making workers feel safe.

Beyond the general criticisms of technological progress, many critics point to legal technology in particular. Simon Chester is one of those critics who recognizes that technology is advancing at a dizzying pace and that the legal profession will be affected. However, he argues that legal technology champions often overlook important barriers to integrate technology into the legal market.[3].

Chester's criticisms can be grouped into three categories: technical, economic and cultural. Chester argues that some technical barriers still limit the implementation of technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Law is messy and, according to Chester, it is difficult to build algorithms that trap law in a useful way[4]. Unlike the medical field - for example -, Chester says, the answers to legal questions can vary greatly depending on the relevant jurisdiction, as few legal problems have clear yes or no answers.

Others have pointed out the complexity of legal reasoning as a potential barrier to the implementation of effective legal technologies. One argument is that legal reasoning is inherent in a parallel process in which the answer to a question can change the questions that will be raised later.[5].

This difficulty would significantly alter the ability to make computers deliver useful answers to legal questions. Another technical limitation, Chester argues, is that AI machines will have difficulty accessing relevant legal information because the main legal publishers are unlikely to disclose expensive materials on which they are copyrighted, and the data of the law firms. They are restricted by confidentiality obligations. As Chester notes, referring to the IBM Watson supercomputer: "Watson needs fuel to run, but the service stations are closed."[6].

If you are right, the integration of legal technology into the legal market will probably take longer than many other sectors. However, Chester's technical criticisms of the implementation of legal technology are questionable. Although few legal problems have direct answers, this does not mean that Artificial Intelligence technologies cannot be used effectively in law. Where problems are complex, with few simple yes or no answers, AI programmers can still find ways to enter the data necessary for the artificial intelligence system to be effective.

For example, review documents for the e-discovery[7] It is not a process with simple yes or no answers, and the unique context of the case often determines the degree of relevance of each document. Even so, technicians use various methodologies to program systems of e-discovery so that they are sensitive to the subtleties of a specific case and, in doing so, achieve better results than humans "alone" in processes of e-discovery.

Finally, we can write down how conclusion That, you don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to take advantage of these tools.


[1] Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim. What jobs are affected by AI? November, 2019. Available in: https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-jobs-are-affected-by-ai-better-paid-better-educated-workers-face-the-most-exposure/ Retrieved on 29/12/2019

[2] Available at: https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/solutions/collateral/industry-solutions/digital-vortex-report.pdf Retrieved on 15/12/2019

[3] Chester, Simon. How Tech is Changing the Practice of Law: Watson, AI, Expert Systems, and More. Paper presented at the Pacific Legal Technology Conference, held in Vancouver on October 02, 2015.

[4] Idem

[5] Aikenhead, Michael. The Uses and Abuses of Neural Networks in Law. Santa Clara: Computer & High Tech - Legal Journal, No. 12, pp. 31-56.

[6] Idem

[7] Referring to the request or formal requirement of electronic information, in order to be used in litigation

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Felipe Durán
Lawyer from the University of Lima. Contract Manager at China Railway Tunnel Group Co. Ltd. Branch of Peru. Specialist in Construction Law, passionate about contracts and the possibilities of technology in this industry. His practice focuses on public and private infrastructure projects. Negotiate, execute and manage contracts, disputes and claims. He has participated in ad hoc processes and in institutional forums such as CCL, PUCP and CCI, at the arbitration level, expert resolution and Dispute Boards.

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