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The Future Of The Legal Education And Profession: Applications Of Artificial Intelligence In Law

One of the most recurrent discussions in legal-philosophical debates has been the legal science theory, which in fact have not ever come to a single final conclusion considering that there is not ever a single correct theory in law. A new dimension may now be added to these debates, given that the discipline of law has, through legal technology applications, approached to natural sciences as it has never ever. Accordingly, the alternative future designed for legal education and practice of law, as we have tried to describe throughout our paper, contemplates that the adoption of an experiential education in legal education may pave the way for change of role of attorney in legal professions. Another issue deemed worthy of debate in this context is whether the legal language may be expressed in the form of an algorithm or not. According to the opinion defended in this paper, although the language of law, differently from computer language, is far beyond the expressibility as ones and zeroes, i.e. rights and wrongs, it is also important to overview this language from a different point of view, getting out of the traditional patterns.

In comparison to other disciplines, the faculties of law are generally seen as traditional and resistant to change. Likewise, the legal profession may occasionally be also specified as a profession which changes more slowly than other professional groups, and particularly which lags behind technology. However, there may be a crossroads waiting for us ahead to compel and push for change even the legal education which proceeds with a curriculum unchanging since long years and is basically based on description of the rules of law. In this paper, we are going to try to describe a way of thinking as to how and in which direction the education in faculties of law and the legal profession may change in an alternative, but expected future wherein a rather great part of legal services will be rendered and performed by algorithms.

I. A Criticism on Legal Education of our Day and a Prediction on Legal Education of the Future

James Moliterno, in his article titled ‘The Future of Legal Education’, stated that the American legal education has basically remained the same since the reform pioneered by Christopher Columbus Langdell towards the end of the 19th century, and criticized this unchanging curriculum regime as follows: “everyone, except older lawyers opposing change for opposition’s sake and faculty members with a stake in the status quo, is demanding that law schools do better.”.1 (Moliterno, James E. “The Future of Legal Education Reform.” Pepperdine Law Review, vol. 40, no. 2, February 2013, p. 423-436. HeinOnline. Accessed 13.10.2020, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/jled46&div=12 )

At this point, we deem it useful to mention about the innovation brought to legal education by Langdell, a defender of positivist legal theory, and the progress recorded by the American legal education. Langdell, the first dean of Harvard Law School, in his book titled ‘A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts’ published in 1871, has adopted the case method within the frame of scientific methodology, by building legal education on the basis of scientific review and discussion of cases systematically introduced into the curriculum, and has been the first practitioner of this system.2 In the sources explaining legal education prior to Langdell’s reform3, it is noted that this system, referred to as recitation period of the, was mentioned as “Professors used to deliver a lecture in the classroom and ask the students only to take notes.”, “Students were assigned a specified portion of a regulation text-book study and for the most part to memorize.” and “The rules of law were rarely debated and questioned, and were accepted as truth and gospel in the course books explaining these rules.”

as you can imagine, this legal education model corresponding to the period prior to 1870 in older American law schools is rather familiar to us today. As a matter of fact, today, the Turkish legal education system is largely – or even it may be said to be entirely – based on a unidirectional methodology wherein positive rules of law lectured by professors, mostly unquestioned and accepted a priori, are followed from course books, and are then tested in exams. It will not be a realistic approach to expect an automatic and instinctive change, without a driving force, in legal education which mainly serves the interests of certain segments of population. However, it may be argued that we may witness in the not-so-distant future a change which may in turn force the whole system to change. Hence, the change resulting from integration of technologies of law to legal professions has so far created a precipitous gap between the legal education on one side and the practical legal professions on the other side, which may in turn lead to an inevitable change in legal education as well.

That is why in the alternative future wherein a lot fewer graduates of faculties of law will find the opportunity to practice law in a non-traditional manner and way as a result of the reducing job opportunities, the faculties of law will be required and expected to compel the students to think beyond the existing patterns, and to develop them towards generation of a solution through a deliberative approach. By contrast with the scenario wherein the rule-centred education given by traditional faculties of law does not provide the graduates with any practical benefit, and far beyond the traditional legal services rendered by algorithms at present, the graduates of faculties of law will in the future be required to assume and play roles requiring creative thinking and fairly complex knowledge of law which can by no means be met by algorithms.

However, integration of technologies of law into legal professions and escalation of law practice into different dimensions may lead to incorporation of some computer sciences based courses in the curriculum in faculties of law. And it is unequivocally clear that creation of such an interdisciplinary curriculum will be possible only with help and support of some disciplines like computer sciences to the lawyers. In connection therewith, in his article titled ‘Artificial Intelligence and Legal Theory at Law Schools‘, Thomas Gordon suggests to make artificial intelligence, which is today standing in an interdisciplinary position between law and computer sciences, part of legal theory as a part thereof in law schools.4 Thus, from a positivist point of view, legal theory is suggested to be separated from philosophy of law and be repositioned in a more scientific structure and methodology, which in turn takes us to the theory of Hans Kelsen aiming to raise the legal science to the level of a genuine science and to reach an objectivism, being the common area and point of all sciences and disciplines.

Conversion of some certain legal practices into computer language and teaching of these legal practices as well in the faculties of law will by time distract law from traditional approaches of law and approach it more and more to positive sciences. So much so that in the US model legal education where law school stands as the second faculty, in the future, it is predicted that candidates having studied positive sciences such as engineering, mathematics, physics or information technologies will be more advantageous in acceptance and entry to faculties of law.5

As seen, in the future, the lawyers to be needed in the work on possible risks as abuse of artificial intelligence and technologies of law or breach of personal data, which will closely effect the legal professions as well in the future, will have to have a command of these technologies. And for this development, both cooperation with other disciplines and incorporation of law practitioners in academy will be needed in order to approach legal education and law practice into each other.

II. Performance of Legal Profession in the Future

Indeed, as mentioned in terms of technologies and algorithms of law throughout the text of this essay, the “future” reflects now, rather than an alternative and entirely imaginative distant future. Today, said algorithms are being employed by a considerable number of law practitioners, and their dissemination and popularization in the legal professions in general does not seem distant in terms of the speed of development of technologies and the rate of their becoming more and more accessible by every passing day. And the influence of lawyers in this process should be to try to assure the fields of confidentiality and personal freedoms threatened by these algorithms offering their services more rapidly, rather than questioning the probability of seizure of their professions by artificial intelligence. That is why the dissemination and popularization of the aforesaid applications will in turn necessitate the generation of new rules of law in order to keep their risks under control.

However, it is also required to accept particularly that the legal profession will be automatized by algorithms in certain fields based on quantity and not requiring complicated knowledge of law, and that the need for attorneys in the legal services will gradually become narrower. In fact, the studies conducted thereon indicate that in the near future, computer programs will be employed for 39% of daily routine jobs of an ordinary attorney.6 Now and therefore, before dealing with the future of the legal professions, it will be useful to see and overview some of the algorithms developed and used today.7

ROSS Intelligence8, the most known one of these algorithms, using a natural language processing software, conducts a legal research in a data system hosting millions of data regarding questions asked by the user, and presents the results thereof to the user in a shorter time and at a lower cost than a typical research to be conducted by the attorney. At present, it is being used by many users in such fields of law as bankruptcy, intellectual property rights, family, tax and labour laws. Thus, Baker Hostetler, one of the largest law firms seated in USA, has recruited ROSS Intelligence as a legal researcher in service of 50 lawyers in its execution and bankruptcy department.9 Media news stating that ROSS has replaced junior counsels and attorneys10 also support our explanations above.

LawGeex11, again using a natural language processing software, is developed to review, examine, process and interpret the agreements which can even be only read by attorneys in many days, by saving around eighty percent of this period of time, while another application named LegalZoom12 is an algorithm which can prepare certain legal documents for users without retaining a lawyer therein for. Included among these legal documents are trademark and patent registration application documents, rental contracts, service contracts and similar other basic types of agreements. Lex Machina13, a system hosting millions of pages of leading cases and decisions, reports the court process, period and winning chances of the case in hand, through machine learning developed regarding judges, lawyers, parties, and the subjects of the cases. It presents to the user in seconds both the decisions held and judged by certain judges in similar subjects in the past and the rates of success of certain attorneys in those legal cases.

Though the algorithms, will certainly become more accessible and reachable in the near future, will not be able to substitute and repeal the legal profession in at least a predictable and foreseeable future, it will not be unrealistic or fantastic to say that they will surely change the role of attorneys in general. Furthermore, it should also be stated that the efficiency of legal services in the fields of activity having a low profit margin and not requiring any complicated knowledge and comment will reduce due to the aforesaid algorithms, and these algorithms may also cause emergence of new fields of activity in legal services. Accordingly, in the process of use of these technologies, the need for lawyers and counsels will increase in such fields as control of data sets uploaded into algorithm, prevention of abuse thereof, and protection of personal data. That is why the graduates of faculties of law who have a command of technologies of law and can generate solutions thereinfor will be far more advantageous, as mentioned above.

Furthermore, it is forecasted that law offices refusing the change and the aforementioned applications will quickly lose their clients, and an assertive argument is that these law offices will disappear from the marketplace just like Kodak which refuses to use the new technologies and insists on following the traditional production method in its own field.14 However, this scenario may be criticized because of incomparability of legal services to a fully mechanical service. Law also covers a lot of elements of service which can by no means be automatized through algorithms. Computer language, within its most basic meaning, is expressed by codes comprised of 1 and 0 figures. This means that it contains only two options: right or wrong. On the other hand, it may not at all times be possible to express the language of law in such a rational manner. That is why the rules of law also contain a great many of grey areas.

In fact, there are some terms and expressions which have been established inside the language of law as a reflection of the doctrine of natural law, and which cannot even be defined and outlined in natural language. Such concepts as “equity” and “good faith” included in the rules of law may be shown as examples thereof. Indeed, it is not possible to squeeze and fit into certain formulae in computer language such and similar other concepts which basically cover the moral principles within the frame of their reflections onto natural law. However, if and when we accept legal positivism and approach to the rules of law formalistically beyond the concept of value, then and in this case, it should also be possible to express them in computer language, at a time when law and science further and gradually approach to each other particularly through artificial intelligence applications, these debates will also remain behind, and the formal aspect of the rules of law will become more dominant.

In summary, the legal profession practices will convert into different dimensions in the future, and particularly, a considerable amount of work traditionally performed by junior counsels and attorneys starting their career in law offices will be assumed and carried out by algorithms with a great saving of time. This will in turn, of course, affect the employment opportunities in law offices. For this reason, it will be possible to carry the legal profession to a more advanced level, thus making it more project-oriented and in need of creative solutions and complicated knowledge of law. However, this picture should not ever be construed as probable disappearance of legal profession, because even in the distant scenario where the technologies of law dominate the whole sector, again lawyers will be needed for resolution of a lot of legal disputes with regard to use of these technologies. In any case, everyone playing a role in practice of law should become familiar to and be able to make use of artificial intelligence and computer technologies, and this will surely become important for determination of role of the legal professions in the future.

Footnotes

1. Moliterno, James E. “The Future of Legal Education Reform.” Pepperdine Law Review, vol. 40, no. 2, February 2013, p. 423-436. HeinOnline. Accessed 13.10.2020, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/jled46&div=12

2. Speziale, Marcia. “Langdell’s Concept of Law as Science: The Beginning of Anti-Formalism in American Legal Theory.” Vermont Law Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 1980, p. 1-38. HeinOnline, Accessed 13.10.2020, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/vlr5&div=6

3. Kimball, Bruce A. “The Langdell Problem: Historicizing the Century of Historiography, 1906-2000s.” Law and History Review, vol. 22, no. 2, Summer 2004, p. 277-338. HeinOnline, Accessed 13.10.2020, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/lawhst22&i=299 ; Redlich, Josef. Common Law and the Case Method in American University Law Schools: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. New York, The Foundation, Accessed 13.10.2020, HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.beal/colacsmth0001&i=1

4. Gordon, Thomas. “Artificial Intelligence and Legal Theory at Law Schools”, Accessed: 20.10.2020, https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.88.6437&rep=rep1&type=pdf

5. Reid, Melanie. “A Call to Arms: Why and How Lawyers and Law Schools Should Embrace Artificial Intelligence.” University of Toledo Law Review, vol. 50, no. 3, 2019, p. 477-490. HeinOnline, Accessed: 13.10.2020, https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/utol50&div=36&id=&page= p.483.

6. ibid, p.488.

7. Semmler, Sean, and Zeeve Rose. “Artificial Intelligence: Application Today and Implications Tomorrow.” Duke Law & Technology Review, 16, 2017-2018, p. 85-99. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/dltr16&div=4&g_sent=1&casa_token=&collection=journals , p.88 ; Reid, Melanie, p.480-48.

8. ROSS, https://rossintelligence.com

9. Law Firm BakerHostetler Hires A ‘Digital Attorney’ Named ROSS, https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/05/17/law-firm-bakerhostetler-hires-a-digital-attorney-named-ross/?sh=6639388578c4

10. Meet ‘ROSS,’ The Newly Hired Legal Robot, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/05/16/meet-ross-the-newly-hired-legal-robot/

11. LAWGEEX, https://www.lawgeex.com

12. LEGALZOOM, https://www.legalzoom.com

13. LEX MACHINA, https://lexmachina.com/legal-analytics

14. Semmler, Sean, and Zeeve Rose, p.97

Internet Sites Used:

ROSS, https://rossintelligence.com

LAWGEEX, https://www.lawgeex.com

LEGALZOOM, https://www.legalzoom.com

LEX MACHINA, https://lexmachina.com/legal-analytics

Law Firm BakerHostetler Hires A ‘Digital Attorney’ Named ROSS, https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/05/17/law-firm-bakerhostetler-hires-a-digital-attorney-named-ross/?sh=6639388578c4 Meet ‘ROSS,’ The Newly Hired Legal Robot, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/05/16/meet-ross-the-newly-hired-legal-robot/

Bibliography

Gordon, Thomas. “Artificial Intelligence and Legal Theory at Law Schools”, Accessed: 20.10.2020, https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.88.6437&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Kimball, Bruce A. “The Langdell Problem: Historicizing the Century of Historiography, 1906-2000s.” Law and History Review, vol. 22, no. 2, Summer 2004, p. 277-338. HeinOnline, Accessed 13.10.2020, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/lawhst22&i=299 .

Moliterno, James E. “The Future of Legal Education Reform.” Pepperdine Law Review, vol. 40, no. 2, February 2013, p. 423-436. HeinOnline. Accessed 13.10.2020, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/jled46&div=12 .

Redlich, Josef. Common Law and the Case Method in American University Law Schools: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. New York, The Foundation, Accessed 13.10.2020, HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.beal/colacsmth0001&i=1.

Reid, Melanie. “A Call to Arms: Why and How Lawyers and Law Schools Should Embrace Artificial Intelligence.” University of Toledo Law Review, vol. 50, no. 3, 2019, p. 477-490. HeinOnline, Accessed: 13.10.2020. https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/utol50&div=36&id=&page=

Semmler, Sean, and Zeeve Rose. “Artificial Intelligence: Application Today and Implications Tomorrow.” Duke Law & Technology Review, 16, 2017-2018, p. 85-99. HeinOnline, Accessed: 20.10.2020, https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/dltr16&div=4&g_sent=1&casa_token=&collection=journals.

Speziale, Marcia. “Langdell’s Concept of Law as Science: The Beginning of Anti-Formalism in American Legal Theory.” Vermont Law Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 1980, p. 1-38. HeinOnline, Accessed 13.10.2020, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/vlr5&div=6 .

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