For an interesting juxtaposition of opinions about AI and the future of law, here are a couple of items to review.
Bob Ambrogi’s piece in Above the Law is titled Fear Not, Lawyers, AI Is Not Your Enemy and even has a subtitle of “The dirty little secret of AI is that it can make us even better lawyers than we are without it.”
Bob writes reassuring things like, “Here’s the thing: AI in the legal profession is not a rogue robot storming the halls of justice. It is not a sentient machine out to destroy humans or even lawyers. It is not even plotting to take away our jobs.” and “AI is a tool. A tool that we control. It is a tool that can make us more effective and efficient at what we do. It is a tool that can help us deliver our services more quickly and at lower cost.”
He concludes, “AI is not a battleground. It is fertile ground. It is not lawyers vs. robots. It is lawyers plus AI.”
I respect and trust Bob Ambrogi.
But in last week’s Wall Street Journal, there’s a different message. This Robot Will Handle Your Divorce Free of Charge details the plans of Joshua Browder, the inventor of the Do Not Pay chatbot, that according to the article, assisted 400,000 people save a total of $11 million in parking fines. The WSJ article quotes him. I think people get caught up in trying to make money, says Browder, 19. I’m just trying to make the law free for everyone. He promulgates often-repeated falsehoods, like uncontested divorces costing up to $10,000. The new service will launch in February and purports to generate all the documents necessary to file for and obtain a divorce. He says, “All you need is to get your partner to sign.”
I’m trying to replace all these lawyers charging hundreds of dollars just to copy and paste, he is quoted in the article as saying.
As with many so-called experts who actually know very little about their subject matter, he probably doesn’t appreciate that many of those partners who “just sign” are not in an emotional state to make profound decisions that will impact their lives and their children’s lives for years or the expenses and unintended consequences that flow from omitting assets or debts from divorce papers. Since he is not a lawyer, he has surely not dealt with the challenges of QUADROs being rejected by employers or real estate titles hopelessly snarled because of bad legal descriptions.
My personal opinion is that sometimes a marriage of short duration that produced no children, assets or debts can be done rather simply without great expense. Some online services purport to do this and Oklahoma lawyers will do so for their clients, too, including those who provide limited scope services. As oil field firefighter Red Adair famously said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
I don’t disagree with Bob Ambrogi’s observations, but I think it is also clear that good AI tools will be based on facts and needs, not popular misconceptions about the law or vindictiveness.