AI: Artificial Intelligence v. Attorney Intelligence

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In Debunking 3 Legal Technology Myths the writer states “technology is usually not about becoming a better lawyer – that’s what CLEs and mentors are for. Technology is about running a more effective law business using shortcuts.” While using technology can help with efficiency, there are certainly legal tasks that computers do well such as document review and cite-checking. Likewise, there are legal tasks attorneys are uniquely equipped to do well: legal research, thinking and addressing complex issues, advising clients, and yes document review (albeit more slowly and costly than computers).

However, the development of IBM’s Watson and the fact that in 2011 it won against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions has catapulted the idea of artificial intelligence (i.e. technology) as potentially replacing the work of legal professionals into the spotlight. And the graph below from a recent Altman Weil survey is telling with respect to how legal professionals feel about this possibility.

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Certainly there are timekeeper tasks that a law-focused Watson-like technology could do. But should we consider the idea from AI Should Stand for Attorney Intelligence that “we are losing sight of the proposition that people are slow and computers fast, but people are smart and computers are dumb”? Or see the proof In A Huge Breakthrough, Google’s AI Beats a Top Player at the Game of Go which lends further credence to the idea that computers are getting closer to mimicking human intelligence and thus are not quite as “dumb” as they once were?

No matter where you stand on the issue of artificial intelligence, if you think you should care about technology because it might replace you, rethink that thought, and consider instead the conclusion in Why Should You Care About Legal Technology that ignoring it will be perilous.

Computers (AI) can answer questions, but for now at least, they cannot ask questions or provide insight! As humans we possess plausible reasoning and critical thinking skills, thus we are able to answer both simple and complex questions. As humans, lawyers are equipped to provide the legal advice necessary to help clients make good decisions.

Technology is great, but the real key is in being smart and acquiring the knowledge of how to use the technology at your disposal to enhance the skills you already possess. Moreover, when the time comes, as it most surely will, we need to embrace and harness new and future technologies to continue improving the business of law.

 

 

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3 Apps Worth Exploring

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  1. iTimeKeep delivers on its tag line of “Simple, Elegant, Everywhere” in keeping up with your time entry on your smart phone, tablet, desktop and iWatch no matter where you are. Enter your time via voice to text or manually. Even better it integrates with many of the major time and billing systems used by law firms.
  2. TrialWorks is an app for managing your cases. Billed as “the first app of its kind” for providing attorneys with access to all their matter related documents on the go including notes, docket (calendar), and contacts.
  3. Jury in a Hurry while not free ($49.99) was developed by a seasoned trial attorney and takes jury selection to a whole new platform – your mobile device! Chock full of unique features including 160 pre-loaded questions and the ability to add customized questions, juror scoring and more this app is worth a closer look.
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Caveat Emptor: Risks of “Free” Legal Information

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It is human nature to love free stuff! However, it’s not necessarily likely for people to recognize that what appears “free” often comes with a few caveats. In Free Legal Information is Not Risk Free Jean O’Grady succinctly unpacks a recently released report on the state of legal information. Important warnings abound regarding free legal information, especially as relates to State materials found on the Internet.

Take heed of just a few of the findings below:

  • State provided legal information sites provide minimal search capabilities: citation retrieval and some basic searching
  • Case citators are not provided by any State case-law sites
  • Ambiguous dates for when many free State provided statutes were last updated
  • Some States post disclaimers regarding reliability of the information

Legal researchers, the general public and especially attorneys using freely available legal information resources on the Web beware: “free legal information is not risk free”.

Click here for a full PDF of the State of Legal Information report findings.

 

 

 

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India and My Top 5 Posts for 2015

2015 New Year celebration

It is apropos that 4 of my 5 top 2015 posts on the Bose Law and Technology Blog cover legal research, writing and technology, and 3 of them were in the top 5 for 2014 too.

Also, out of a total of 2,970 visitors in 2015, interestingly, India is the country from which I have the second highest number of visitors with 126 but not surprisingly it is dwarfed by the United States with 2233.

Here are my top 5 posts for 2015:

  1. 8 Great Legal Research and Writing Resources and Blogs
  2. 2 Apps Put Legal Writing in Your Pocket
  3. Siri Meet ROSS
  4. Part 1 Legal Research in Your Pocket: Fee-based Services
  5. 5 Quality Business Development Blogs

Feel free to give them another look now!

Thank-you for visiting the blog and I hope you will continue to do so in 2016.

Happy New Year!

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Siri Meet ROSS

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Designed by University of Toronto students, ROSS, a Siri-like prototype app for legal research utilizes IBM’s Watson computer technology to help lawyers and legal research specialists “power through legal research.” Like Siri, but designed for lawyers, asking ROSS a legal question will get you an “instant answer with citations and suggested readings from a variety of content sources.”

Here is a sampling of  what ROSS can do:

  1. Give you very relevant answers – not a list of results – to your natural language questions
  2. Learn from user’s questions – it learns and improves the more it is used
  3. Provide a consistent and easy to use experience no matter the device from which you access it

Although still in the prototype stage, ROSS is getting the backing of one large U.S. firm and shows great promise as an innovative legal research tool.


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Legal Technology Musings

technology_consultingIt’s annual survey time and the results are in!

Law Firms [Slowly] in Transition provides a summary of the the Altman Weil review of law firms and the challenges they face. Sadly those challenges seem to have changed little over the years – price competition, commoditization of legal work, outsourcing, etc. However, most interesting are the results of the question asking “Can you envision a law-focused ‘Watson’ replacing any of the following timekeepers in your firm in the next 5 to 10 years?” and how this year’s results compare to the same question in previous years. Hint: the percentage of those who think it can are rising.

Highlights from the Just-Published ILTA 2015 Technology Survey reveals that security and mobile usage and mobile device management are top of mind for many firms. Surprisingly, the percentage of firms not using a knowledge management system is still high, but kudos to the high percentage (46%) of firms that are using enterprise social networking tools for internal or external communications.

Finally a pat on the back is in order for the first firm to pass the legal technology audit – A Firm Finally Passed The Legal Tech Audit. Perhaps others will follow suit! Not surprising that training was the key to passing.

 

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6 Cool Tools for Bloggers

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Blogging is hard, albeit rewarding work!  As a form of writing, it comes with all the same woes: writer’s block, time constraints, discouragement, and frustration. But don’t despair, there are many cool, easy to use online tools to help you keep going. Consider the following six:

  1. Feedly is an excellent RSS tool that provides a single place for you to monitor and quickly read the news sites and  blogs you follow.  It is available on both the desktop and mobile, thereby allowing you to access it while at the office or on-the-go.
  2. Pocket is a great app for saving articles for later reading that you happen to stumble upon while on-the-go.
  3. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Pulse are great sources for trending topics and leading edge ideas from your network of LinkedIn professionals and LinkedIn Influencers.
  4. Evernote is a free app for taking notes and serves well as a catch-all place for entering any those blog post ideas that come to mind anytime, anywhere. Simply launch the app from your mobile device and enter your idea for later retrieval.
  5. Unable to put into writing what you’re thinking? SpeakWrite lets you verbally record your thoughts, upload to the service, and receive a transcript of your thoughts to quickly edit and publish to your blog.
  6. Sometimes the best thing to break writer’s block is coming up with a good title. Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator is a great resource for finding ideas to write about. Simply enter three terms, click on the Give Me Blog Topics button, and get a list of potential blog post titles hat can be swiftly turned into articles.

Happy blogging!!

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