A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/technology/lawyers-artificial-intell
BYSTEVE LOHR
MARCH 19, 2017
Photo James Yoon, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif., says people are willing to pay for his experience. “What clients don’t want to pay for is any routine work.” Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley’s next victim.

But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of A.I. in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process. In other words, like it or not, a robot is not about to replace your lawyer. At least, not anytime soon.

“There is this popular view that if you can automate one piece of the work, the rest of the job is toast,” said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That’s just not true, or only rarely the case.”

An artificial intelligence technique called natural language processing has proved useful in scanning and predicting what documents will be relevant to a case, for example. Yet other lawyers’ tasks, like advising clients, writing legal briefs, negotiating and appearing in court, seem beyond the reach of computerization, for a while.

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