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The debate regarding the use of artificial intelligence in our modern life continues to divide opinions. In one hand, many believe that automation through artificial intelligence may increase productivity and competitiveness in the business industry. In the other hand, the use of artificial intelligence also raises concerns as it elevates the risk of cutting-off more conventional jobs and skepticism towards artificial intelligence to self-learn beyond our control, becoming competent with goals misaligned with ours. This advancement will surely bring significant effect in how we run business in the future, in consequence, sharpening our awareness in artificial intelligence is fundamental.

Many business sectors today rely on the assistance of machinery and computers. With the current technology innovations, the science and engineering of making intelligent machines are now a reality. Artificial intelligence, sometimes referred to as cognitive computing, emphasizes the creation of computer programs and machines that can work and imitate human responsiveness, enhancing their capacity in learning, planning, perceiving, and solving problems. Integrating this technology in many programs and tools that support business operations is possible. Real examples of artificial intelligence in business are easy to find, from voice-powered personal assistants in our mobile devices, to more complex technologies such as autonomous self-driving vehicles boasting predictive capabilities in the automotive industry. The use of artificial intelligence is spreading in broad sectors, up to reaching the legal business and industry.

Law firms and lawyers are the principal providers of legal services, and numerous of them are now eyeing artificial intelligence. Based on a survey covering 386 North-American law firms made in April 2017 by Altman Weil, a US consulting firm exclusive to legal organizations, approximately 7.5% of law firms have been using instruments involving artificial intelligence. Another 28.8% are researching options to use it, 37.8% know its existence but remains indifferent, and the remaining 25.9% are not familiar with the technology. In Asia, artificial intelligence also excites the legal market since Asian companies and law firms are approaching their business to legal technology.

One of the prominent intelligent platform currently used by American lawyers is called ROSS, the first legal research engine developed by Ross Intelligence that uses artificial intelligence to automate legal processes. It has seduced major law firms to use its services as ROSS can quickly analyze and answer legal questions directly asked by its users, making legal research less time-consuming. Many other legal-tech start-ups are heading towards the same direction, from creating automated intelligent Chat-bot lawyers to exploiting artificial intelligence in legal tools. Artificial intelligence can present further improvement to the delivery of legal services and transform how lawyers portray their profession.

It is intriguing to know how far intelligent systems can help the legal profession. To begin with, artificial intelligence can replace the drudge work that a lawyer endures. In 2017, McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that 23% of lawyers’ assignments can be automated. Most of them are legal research and repetitive legal drafting routinely done by junior lawyers. These assignments normally require tremendous amount of time, nonetheless, with the help of artificial intelligence, not only it would save money, but can also save the precious time of lawyers while reducing their stress and frustration. The less work lawyers provide for one client means more work they could get from others, and here, extra work means extra income. Second, artificial intelligence could deliver a higher quality of work since the fatigue and distraction that a human lawyer usually deals with does not apply to computers. Tools equipped with artificial intelligence are accurate and can reduce mistakes from human-error. Third, a potential client’s particular concern in appointing a lawyer, besides credentials and reputation, is the cost of legal services. Artificial intelligence in legal software is cheap to implement if compared to the potential return it brings. It can drive the cost of legal fees down making legal services more affordable for clients.

Accordingly, the presence of artificial intelligence will generate more competitive legal market since it can replace the work of paralegals, legal interns and junior lawyers. However, society still remains with conventional legal services as artificial intelligence lacks the creativity, charisma, cunning, and the empathy of a human lawyer. Other ethical question also rises such the burden of responsibility in case of failure in legal services delivered by artificial intelligence, along with the risk of lawyers becoming too dependent in automated machines rather than self-capability in their legal competence.

In Indonesia, the delivery of legal services using artificial Intelligence is yet to be practiced. The technology has not been introduced and most Indonesian clients are comfortable with direct legal consultation, as it reflects trust and intimacy between lawyers and clients. The Indonesian Advocates Law also stipulates that legal services given within or beyond the court of law can only be provided by persons who are advocates. Even though artificial intelligence could give legal support to community, the definite legal service is conducted by human lawyers.

Finally, there are currently no specific laws that regulates artificial intelligence in Indonesia. The Indonesian Advocates Code of Ethics is also silent about the role of intelligent machines in legal services. The Government and the Indonesian Advocates Association (PERADI) must be aware of the existence of artificial intelligence in the legal industry so they could guide the lawyers in its application and protect the people from its risks.

Artificial intelligence can do legal work, but will not replace lawyers, yet. Still, the future where legal services may be provided by robot lawyers might not be that far away. As lawyers, we must be prepared to face the forthcoming of artificial intelligence in our legal industry and legal market. We need to be ready to change and adapt to the technology advancement in the legal industry, or else, the legal business that we care most may disappear likewise the extinct jobs and profession buried by the progress of time and technology.

The writers are digital business and technology lawyers at Bahar & Partners Law Firm. The views expressed are their own.

Artificial intelligence in the legal industry Published in The Jakarta Post, 29th December 2017

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