Artificial intelligence now smarter than lawyers, better able to analyze legal contracts

No one is safe from the oncoming robot revolution. Even lawyers, highly-skilled professionals who are known to be among the highest-paid workers in modern society, are at risk of losing their jobs because of advanced artificial intelligence (A.I.). And now there’s some definitive proof to back that statement up.

LawGeex, a known legal A.I. platform, recently conducted a study wherein they pitted some of the country’s top lawyers who are active in practice against A.I. in an attempt to see which of them could outperform the other. The task was something simple and performed by lawyers all over the world every single day: reading and interpreting contracts.

The human lawyers lost. A.I. these days is so far advanced of what was available even just 10 years ago that there isn’t really a question of who lost the contest. Rather, the question should be how badly the humans lost against the robots. It wasn’t that bad, truth be told, but the results do make an obvious case: A.I. is now better than actual human lawyers at doing their jobs.

According to information from the LawGeex study, a total of twenty experienced top lawyers were pitted against A.I. with training in the evaluation of legal contracts. LawGeex consulted a number of law professors from Duke University School of Law, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California to make sure they got everything right. And the results of the competition show that they did indeed nail everything that was needed with their A.I. lawyer program.

LawGeex revealed that the human lawyers averaged only an 85 percent accuracy rate, compared with the 95 percent accuracy rate achieved by the A.I. In terms of speed in completing tasks, the A.I. also won over the human lawyers, as it clocked in at only 26 seconds while human lawyers spent an average of 92 minutes to get their own tasks done. And as for accuracy, the A.I. went all in with 100 percent accuracy in one contract, compared with just the 97 percent accuracy achieved by the highest-scoring human lawyer.

According to Erika Buell, a clinical professor at Duke University School of Law and one of the lawyers consulted by LawGeex for the study, these results don’t necessarily mean the end for human lawyers as you know it. “Having the A.I. do a first review of an NDA, much like having a paralegal issue spot, would free up valuable time for lawyers to focus on client counseling and other higher-value work,” she said. In other words, the A.I. lawyer could serve as a competent and reliable lawyer assistant that can only make things better for actual human lawyers moving into the future.

In an email interview with online technology news website Mashable, Buell admitted that there is a place for these types of A.I. programs in a world where lawyers want to remain competitive. “I strongly believe that law students and junior lawyers need to understand these A.I. tools, and other technologies, that will help make them better lawyers and shape future legal practice,” she explained. “I would expect that the general public, to the extent they want their lawyers to work efficiently on their legal matters, will be excited about this new tool.”

For now that may be true. But once the A.I. becomes advanced enough, perhaps through some kind of neural network where it can teach itself or learn from other programs that are similar to it, it will finally have the ability to replace lawyers for good. Until then, it will surely be a proper and useful assistant. Practicing lawyers will surely hope that it stays that way for a long, long time.

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