“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
I predict that the first components of a litigation file to be completely automated are the drafting of:
- Common Pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim for “slip and fall”);
- Affidavit of Documents; and
- Discovery Plans for common actions.
These documents are rule based, and computer programs love rules. I envision a computer program asking questions at the beginning of the file based on the type of action, e.g. when did the accident happen? What were the injuries? Based on a formula, the program would then produce a checklist/timeline for the action, notice letters, and pleading. As the file progressed, the program would then organize all client documents according to materiality, relevancy, and privilege into an Affidavit of Documents. Following examination for discovery, the program would create an undertakings list and assist in answering undertakings, and so on, leaving the role of the lawyer forever changed.
As automation in litigation becomes common, disputes between lawyers will change. Lawyers will argue about the legitimacy of the formula used in drafting legal documents. In response, there will be a whole new body of law on what makes a formula credible and ethical.
Should lawyers be afraid of automation?
No. “To survive every industry must plot its obsolescence of what now produces their livelihood.” – The Formula By Luke Dormehl