Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Would You Trust an AI with Your Legal Research?

For some lawyers, legal research is engaging, stimulating, and even fun. For others, it's torture. Thankfully, legal researchers and those that hate legal research have had a symbiotic relationship for quite some time.

Unfortunately for the legal researchers though, artificial intelligence is poised to start really cutting into the available research workload, or at least the number of hours one can claim spending time researching legal authority. A newly released free AI tool not only works, it seriously threatens those who live to research whether cases cited in briefs are still good law.

What AI Still Can't Do

Right now, it seems that much of the old legwork, such as pulling cited and relevant cases and statutes, involved in legal research can be replaced by artificial intelligence. For example, the new free AI tool mentioned above, EVA, can take a legal brief via a drag and drop interface in your web-browser, read it to check for case citations, then provide a list of cases as clickable links that are sorted based on whether the cases have been overruled, criticized, distinguished, upheld, and even commented upon.

Unfortunately, Ross, and other AI programs, can't read those cases and summarize what would be helpful for a live case, nor can it write a reply brief, motion, opposition, or pleading. Also, it can't interact with a client, show up to court, nor can an AI argue in court in one's stead (not even telephonically). At least, not yet. For now, expect the AI to maybe just reduce how much you have to spend on outside research assistance, or assistant time pulling cited cases and law.

AI Caramba Man

For those in the lawyer support industry, including lawyers that primarily support other lawyers, AI now poses a serious threat to those jobs. With AI increasing the efficiency of legal research, firms may find that scaling back on the support roles makes financial sense. Hopefully, the reduced overhead won't just lead to increased profits, but rather to the overall decreasing of costs for individuals to access justice.

However, legal researchers should not give up to the AI without a fight. Legal researchers and lawyers should be cautious about relying on new releases of research technology because if it doesn't work right, there could be serious ramifications for clients, who aren't likely to accept blaming a robotic assistant. Legal researchers need to thoroughly vet these AI programs before lawyers, and courts, actually start relying on them.

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