Can Artificial Intelligence Augment Lawyers Capabilities Or Altogether Replace Them


We, humans, have advanced ourselves a lot in the field of technology. Since the advent of the internet and various other tools, every day there is a new breakthrough in one area or the other. There have been significant advancements in almost all areas with the help of updated technologies. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality etc. have come up to the foreground. This era of robots, smartphones and other smart gadgets which can work according to the needs of the user is all because of these new and updated technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes life easy for people using it. It has the power to learn and understand the preferences of the humans commanding and subsequently keeps delivering more accurate results every time it improves with more and more data set.

Artificial Intelligence has grown advanced that now robots can do things without being instructed. Recently in Saudi Arabia, a Humanoid became the first robot to be accorded citizenship. The AI technology is cost-effective and time-saving. It helps to do things with ease and reduces a lot of human workloads. Use of Artificial Intelligence in the manufacturing sector has proved to be profitable for the industry. It has helped in increasing productivity and reducing production and labour cost. On the contrary, many have lost their jobs as the system through such technology is considered more efficient and accurate than people. The proverb “To err is human” stands true. As the technology is faster and more precise in its work, people tend to use these technologies rather than hiring humans.

In recent times, we have witnessed growth in the use of Artificial Intelligence in the field of law as well. Artificial Intelligence has been significantly used for legal research in India. It helps in searching for more valid Indian case laws and relevant documents for simplifying legal research which makes litigation strong. For researchers in the field of law, any AI enabled legal research portal is an excellent tool for doing the tiresome task of researching on Indian court judgments. With the latest form of legal research portal, one can very easily find the relevant document. AI has also been helpful in creating robust product features that aim at reducing the overall research time of the researcher as well.

Legitquest is one such portal that has built an AI-enabled legal search engine to help legal stakeholders find the relevant legal data in seconds. The platform in a complete package for researchers which aims at making the legal research in India efficient, convenient and time saving through its unique product features.

However, to the question that, “Can Artificial Intelligence Replace Lawyers?”, the answer is a straight “NO”. Artificial Intelligence is made to help people do things with ease and not replace them. It is a tool for augmentation through automation. The technology aims at augmenting the capabilities of the human rather than replacing them. Humans have built the technology and not another way around. The systems and programmes have to be commanded by humans to improvise and keep it going. In a profession like that of lawyers’, the professional needs to understand the moment and also, the mental and emotional status of the client and the opposite party.

Artificial Intelligence runs on a data and programmes that is fed to it. It lacks the actual human mindset even after artificially acquiring though. Lawyering needs strategy, creativity, judgment, and empathy. Without these skills, one cannot become a lawyer. A quote from an article in New York Times says – “The data-driven analysis technology is assisting human work rather than replacing it. Indeed, the work that consumes most of the time involves strategy, creativity, judgment, and empathy — and those efforts cannot yet be automated.”

Artificial Intelligence cannot develop empathy. It cannot judge its action before doing anything. It works on a particular set of previous data fed into the system. Such data-based approach cannot help in creating an artificial lawyer that has those strong human skills to handle a unique situation of a case. Every case is different in its complexities and always has a different set of challenges placed before the lawyer. Thus, the approach should not be similar and shall be according to the need of the particular case. Artificial Intelligence cannot do it. It’s only a lawyer’s brain that can come up with a new and creative way of doing and handling the business every time. In the launch event of Legitquest, Supreme Court judge Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K. Sikri said, “Artificial Intelligence facilitates an advocate to become more efficient in discharging his duties but cannot take the place of a lawyer as advocacy is a matter of emotions and human empathy.”

The most significant purpose of the law is to administer justice in the society. For that, our law has provided a discretionary power to the court to decide in various circumstances. Also, there may be a fallacy or some ambiguity in the provision in question. The judges shall have the capability to understand the inconsistency or ambiguity and interpret the law. The conscience that is needed for interpretation of statutes is not available in the programmed technology.

Artificial Intelligence may know the statutes and case laws relevant to a particular case being dealt. But it can never decide on the quantum of the damages or punishment for which the defendant or convict is to be made liable. It is something that can be determined only by humans based on various factors that aggravated the conduct of a person, actual circumstances etc. The sentence is to be delivered with empathy, equity and a sense of justice which will always remain in a judgment.

Advocacy requires the skill of interrogating or examining along with intellect. And that examining skill should be in a way that witness himself leads the evidence. Such examinations are based on instantaneous questions on the previous answer to the witness. A programmed lawyer, if there is any, will not be capable of such instant wit as the human professional has. The skills needed in a lawyer are manifold, and many of them are such that a computer cannot acquire. For acquiring abilities of empathy and equity, there needs to be a feeling towards the person for whom one is empathizing or thinking equitably. Artificial Intelligence cannot learn those intangible elements. Hence, it’s humanly impossible to programme such a technology which can act exactly like humans do and eventually, take the place of the lawyers.

Thus, for legal research or for that matter any other preliminary legal service/product, AI will be a boon to augment the lawyers’ capability. But in the courtroom for practicing litigation and delivering judgments, the AI technology may fall short to replace lawyers and judges. Artificial Intelligence technology can help lawyers achieve a feat they haven’t accomplished yet. It can change the way lawyers do their work. It can improve the work ethics. But replacing human being is unimaginable at the moment.