• March 5, 2018

A business called LawGeex is promoting its study that purports to show that their software performed better than real lawyers in the review of several non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

As we understand the test, “Twenty US-trained lawyers, with decades of legal experience ranging from law firms to
corporations, were asked to issue-spot legal issues in five standard NDAs. They competed against a LawGeex AI system that has been developed for three years and trained on tens of thousands of contracts.”

In other words, engineers “taught” the software to identify “choice-of-law clauses,” “return of company property clauses,” etc. etc. (a total of 30 common NDA clauses) (see Appendix 3 at p. 30) and the software was able to identify these “issues” more reliably and more quickly than the human lawyers.

Does that make you fear for your job? Is your job simply going through a checklist of clauses and confirming that each is in a particular document?

If the answer to the second question is, “Yes,” then the answer to the first question should be “Yes.”

And maybe corporate America is paying legions of in-house lawyers for such basic and almost mechanical work. But we think not. Not exactly, anyhow. Computers undoubtedly have taken away the more rote and mechanistic aspects of lawyers’ jobs as with so many other occupations. But this “issue spotting” is a small part of what lawyers do and what value they bring their clients. So, again, while computers will increase lawyer efficiency (and lower legal fees), we conclude that it will be several decades before substantial automation of lawyering.

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