​ADOPTING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN NIGERIA: LAWYERS DELIGHT OR DISMAY?

INTRODUCTION

John McCarthy, the father of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 1955 coined the term into the cutting-edge and rapidly changing field of Science which already can be intimidating and downright befuddling.
Barrister Opeyemi Olusoga, Managing Director of LawPavilion Business Solutions unveiled “TIMI” as Nigeria’s first AI legal assistant in 2016. This brought Nigeria into contact with the 21st century technological advancement.

In an early year discussion on AI, Bruce G. Buchanan and Thomas E. Headrick wrote that AI would have to mirror a person’s reasoning process, mimic the analytical reasoning of lawyers to arrive at a legal solution. However, this has been i that AI does not necessarily have do the same legal reasoning performed by a human, it just has to arrive at the same conclusion as a legal practitioner. Thus, AI is defined as an attempt to mimic human intelligence in outcomes but not in its underlying process.

Several AI had been developed to function in diverse aspects of the practice of law. COIN was developed in 2017 for commercial loan agreement, DOXLY for contract analysis, ROBO for review works amongst a myraids of others. The efficacies of these technologies has been judicially applauded by United States Magistrate, Judge Andrew J. Peck who opined thus:

“Although, I will not require a party to choose technology assisted reviews (TAR) keyword searching, in general TAR is cheaper, more efficient and superior to keyword searching.” Hyles v New York City (2016).


Usability of AI

AI arguably has been developed to augment what lawyers do and free them to take on higher-level tasks. AI has come as a relief to problems lawyers face in the following aspects of law including:

E-discovery and predictive coding: Prior to the advent of electronically stored information, teams of young associates performed document review and predictive coding. The efforts of such army of lawyers has been replaced by an AI called ROBO which performs technology assisted reviews in place of lawyers input.

  1. Legal Research: Through the advent of WestLaw and LexisNexis; law schools worldwide are exposed to electronic legal research. Seyfarth Shaw in 2017 announced being the first law firm to use AI to move information between computer programs.
  2. Document Generation: The making of documents – such as wills, incorporation documents, real estate documents, loan agreement, promissory notes – currently are being generated at the peak of ease and the lowest cost with the highest speed possible with AI.
  3. Predictive Analysis: In 2002, a group of political scientists and professors of law created a Supreme Court forecasting project which produced 75% accurate result, although this was done without AI, it is not impossible with AI even as McKinsey Global Institute in 2017 released a two-year study results that robot can do more than routine works.
  4. Contract Analysis: Legal robots use machine learning techniques to understand legal language, compare it to contracts to identify boilerplate and custom provisions. 


Necessity of the Human Intellect

There are problems that have accompanied the introduction of AI. These problems range from the perfectly simple to the over exaggeration. From the concern that AI will take over the job prior performed by man, to the concern that the rise in AI will signal the end of the human race. The truth remains that there will be increased need for lawyers with the development of AI for several reasons.

Firstly, there will always remain a continuous need for actual lawyers that would be part of the developers of the AI technology itself. Legal practitioners will be fundamental partners with computer scientists in developing legally usable AI. IBM’s Watson Robot won jeopardy in 2011 and sometimes still give wrong answers. This proves that there will always be lawyers who will be there to determine the accuracy of answers produced by AI and check whether its decisions are valid. Lawyers will be needed to oversee and correct any future errors of AI.

Andrew Bodnar opined that a computer could analyze facts along with a data bank of precedents and it could correlate the two, but he questioned whether the computer would eventually reach a state where it could go beyond understanding what the law is to also understanding the reasons the law is what it is.

For AI to replace lawyers in oral advocacy, it would need to replicate human awareness, determine the judges’ temperaments, acknowledge witnesses’ moods and then proceed with its argument employing calculated tone and words.

If AI were to replace incoming associates eventually, there is the stark reality that all existing lawyers and judges would retire and there would be no lawyers to replace them. To think that a society relies solely on software to evaluate the legality of all actions seems unreasonable and unrealistic.

The human nature of a client will always exist and AI cannot fully replicate how a human lawyer would respond to his fellow human. How would a computer be programmed to determine what a reasonable person would do to choose between the charges of second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter? Human factors cannot and should not be reduced to algorithm.

Conclusion

AI has not come to replace the lawyers or to revolutionize the legal industry; instead, it is an implementation of tools to make the lawyer perform better. The future is now. The existing technology may be limited but the availability, quality and price will soon come together in products that are just too useful for in-house legal department to resist.                                                              

REFERENCES

  • Economic Value of a Law Degree—Micheal Simkovio & Frank Mclyntre. Page 1.
  • Legal Profession Slower to Adapt to Technology—Lara Bullock. Page 3.
  • The Rise of AI in the Legal Field: Where we are and Where we are Going—Sergio David Becerra. Page 1.
  • Your Next Lawyer Could be a Machine—Ephrat Livni. Page 2.
  • The Future of Law—Susan Beck. Page 4.
  • AI: An Introduction—Mark Maloof.  Page 1 
  • AI in Law: The State of Play—Micheal Mills.Page 3.
  • What is Big Data? —Jennifer Dutcher. Page 4.
  • What is Alorgrithim and Why You Should Care?—Khan  Academy https//www.khanAcademy.org/computing/computer science/alorgrithimm/intro-to-alogriths/v/what are alorgriths. Page 2.
  • Natural Language Processing TechTarget. Page 3.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adeyemi Comfort Oluwatoyin is a forth year student of law at the Faculty of law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. A scholarly legal researcher and a sort after content developer, she emerged as the Best Orator in a Campus Wide Oratorial Challenge.

Comfort is an award winning essayist and a prolific writer with relationship synergy on a number of platforms – including, The Eno Abimbola Initiative, Relationship and Life Series and Two Become One.