In the longer term: How will the legal system incorporate AI in the provision of legal services? Will there be a time when AI “lawyers” are, for example, a complement to or replacement for overworked public defenders? How will society respond to the possibility of AI “judges” that can demonstrably produce faster, more equitable and more uniform decisions than human judges can? Is it intrinsically improper to have human disputes adjudicated by AI, even if the system‐wide outcomes are more equitable than humans can deliver? Would it be appropriate –even ethically prescribed— to entrust the practice of legal tasks solely to “AI lawyers” if they are proven to be generally superior to humans?
Early manifestations: AI is already used to replicate and automate the work of lawyers in certain fact‐finding tasks, in particular electronic discovery. A ground‐breaking study under the aegis of US NIST demonstrated that automated assessments of relevancy and responsiveness conducted by sophisticated AI systems could, in the hands of scientifically trained experts, perform with greater accuracy and speed than human attorneys could. This raises today the somewhat futuristic question outlined immediately above: if AI systems are demonstrably superior to human attorneys at certain aspects of legal work (e.g., responsiveness assessments), what are the ethical and professional implications for the practice of law?