12th Annual Bar Leaders’ Conference

24 May - 25 May 2017

Session information

Robot lawyers: the challenges and opportunities to the legal community in the age of artificial intelligence


Bar Issues Commission (Lead)
Bar Issues Commission (Lead)


Artificial intelligence (AI) has made extraordinary progress in the past few years, thanks to a versatile new technique called ‘deep learning’. Suddenly AI systems are achieving impressive results in a range of tasks. Given enough large data (or deep learning) computers, modelled on the brain’s architecture, can be trained to do all kinds of things. We read about robots that have ‘personalities’. For lawyers employing computer programmes that perform certain tasks once handled by lawyers, the ethical rules and obligations continue. However, is it simply old wine in new bottles, or are the current rules insufficient to maintain professional standards in the use of AI? The move towards increased automation of legal services continues to gather momentum as pressures to lower costs, increase efficiency, satisfy existing clients and attract new business continue. This programme addresses the following questions: • What is the detail of this automation of legal services? • How has this changed how lawyers offer their services? • What are the costs and earnings implications for clients and law firms? • To what extent will the numbers of employed lawyers be affected? • What are the expected changes to IT and consequently legal practice in the coming years? • What are the challenges to ethical rules and obligations? • What are the implications of all of this for bar associations?

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Steven Richman American Bar Association, Washington, District of Columbia, USA; BIC Officer