Time to ap­ply ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence

The Australian - - LEGAL AFFAIRS - CHRIS MER­RITT

Daniel Martin Katz has some good news: five years from now, when ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and tech­nol­ogy have even greater roles in the busi­ness of law, he be­lieves there will still be a role for lawyers. But what sort of role? The an­swer to that ques­tion is sub­ject to many vari­ables, but Pro­fes­sor Katz will be out­lin­ing some of the pos­si­bil­i­ties to­day at a con­fer­ence hosted by the NSW Law So­ci­ety on the fu­ture of law and in­no­va­tion in the pro­fes­sion.

Pro­fes­sor Katz, who is a key­note speaker at the con­fer­ence, is an editor of the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Law and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and is on the ed­i­to­rial board of the Jour­nal of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence & Law.

He is based at the Chicago Kent Col­lege of Law at the Illi­nois In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, where he is di­rec­tor of Law Lab.

Un­like some, Pro­fes­sor Katz be­lieves ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence does not amount to an ex­is­ten­tial threat to the le­gal pro­fes­sion. But he does be­lieve the way lawyers work will be very dif­fer­ent in just a few years.

At the mo­ment, most lawyers see them­selves as ser­vice providers, but ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Katz, the big shift will be some­thing he de­scribes as the “pro­duc­ti­sa­tion” of law.

He de­scribes “pro­duc­ti­sa­tion” as the trend in which law firms bun­dle prod­ucts and le­gal ser­vices in a way that makes law firms re­sem­ble other parts of the busi­ness world.

He be­lieves this is hav­ing an im­pact on what he refers to as “the in­dus­trial or­gan­i­sa­tion” of the pro­fes­sion. “In prac­ti­cally ev­ery le­gal mar­ket in the world, we have seen ma­te­rial in­creases in what might be called le­gal in­no­va­tion — which is not just tech­nol­ogy,” he said.

And he be­lieves the pace of change in the mar­ket for le­gal ser­vices is ac­cel­er­at­ing.

“It’s not one sin­gle thing. It’s a con­flu­ence of dif­fer­ent fac­tors from out­sourc­ing, to process im­prove­ment, to tech­nol­ogy de­sign that bring dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to the work peo­ple are do­ing,” Pro­fes­sor Katz said.

While lawyers have a direct in­ter­est in the com­ing changes, he is more in­ter­ested in what they will mean for clients.

“It will be fine if it im­proves the world for lawyers, but I think it’s more im­por­tant if it im­proves it for ev­ery­body else,” he said.

“Whether that means we have more or fewer lawyers is some­thing that is not too great an in- ter­est to me, it is more like, ‘do we solve the prob­lems for which lawyers and the law are the solution, ap­par­ently’?”

To­day’s con­fer­ence is the lat­est in a series of moves aimed at pre­par­ing the pro­fes­sion for what some are re­fer­ring to as the next in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion.

KPMG Law and King & Wood Mallesons have jointly fi­nanced a pro­fes­so­rial chair at the Univer­sity of NSW that fo­cuses on dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion in law. Late last year UNSW also es­tab­lished the Al­lens Hub for Tech­nol­ogy, Law and In­no­va­tion with back­ing from Al­lens and the NSW Law So­ci­ety.

Pro­fes­sor Katz hopes the changes will be ac­com­pa­nied by a struc­tural evo­lu­tion of the pro­fes­sion that will give law firms a more cor­po­ra­tised ap­pear­ance.

“It won’t be to­tally un­recog­nis­able, but it will look more like a big four ac­count­ing firm and less like a tra­di­tional law firm,” he says. “But in my view it will still rep­re­sent a pretty ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence to what we have to­day.”

Pro­fes­sor Katz be­lieves law firms will in­creas­ingly of­fer as­so­ci­ated ser­vices and will even­tu­ally “meet in the mid­dle” with ac­coun­tants. He be­lieves le­gal tech­nol­ogy and fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy are also “on a col­li­sion course” be­cause of their sim­i­lar­i­ties.

Daniel Martin Katz ... a big shift to ‘pro­duc­ti­sa­tion’

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