SMU Science and Technology Law Review


The practice of law is changing, and most lawyers are unprepared for this metamorphosis. This statement is not an exaggeration but the acknowledgment that artificial intelligence (“AI”) has altered the way lawyers do business. Instead of having a “battle of forms,” attorneys will now be confronted with the “battle of computers.” Linking artificial intelligence and the law, however, is a natural progression. Both operate in similar fashions: each examines and applies “historical examples in order to infer rules to apply to new situations.”

While many attorneys are unsure how to integrate this new technology into their practices, they already use some form of AI without knowing it. Conducting a Google search for opposing counsel or experts are examples of the use of artificial intelligence. The same is true for using Westlaw or Lexis to retrieve a case on a particular point of law. Similarly, accessing a court’s website to look up a docket requires the use of computer learning. These examples are simple applications, but artificial intelligence continues to evolve. New uses allow attorneys to employ AI to write contracts and to use natural language to obtain answers about a point of law. This evolution makes it essential for attorneys to ascertain what data is obtainable and how to utilize that material in representing a client.

This article will provide a primer on how AI transforms the legal arena. Following an explanation of how the technology operates, various examples will be provided on how machine learning can benefit attorneys, from contract drafting to improving client relations. The ethical and legal issues presented by AI will also be explored.



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