Lawyerbot: Name Says it All

Guest_Jim_* - July 6, 2012 01:35PM in Science & Technology

Lawyering is not as easy as some television shows may make you think, nor is it as exciting. Really a fair portion of it can require reading or hiring someone to read a lot for you. It may be evidence or law books that have to be read, but it still can take a great deal of time and effort to do so. To speed the process along, and cut costs, some lawyers are now looking to software for document analysis, and courts are allowing it.

In one case there were an estimated two million emails and attachments to be examined, which would have taken 20,000 hours to read and cost $2 million in the process. The lawyer decided to use a bot with predictive coding to study the documents and identify which were relevant and which were not. The opposing lawyer objected to this, but the judge overturned the objection, and allowed the bot to be used, and thus cut the discovery time down to just two weeks and a percentage of the cost.

There are some concerns about whether a piece of software can be as competent at finding relevant documents as humans, but evidence is showing the bots can be more competent than people. In the Enron corpus a bot successfully found a document that said, "I'll be shredding ' till 11am" which the humans had all missed. The hope for these bots is that they will allow lawyers to attract more clients as legal costs can be greatly reduced. As long as the bots can be validated and defended in court, this hope may come true.