By ELEBUTE JOSHUA A., JESSICA OBODO-ELUE, AND WILLIAMS OLUSOLA CHRISTIANA

INTRODUCTION

It has become a regular occurrence that humans become afraid anytime technology evolves to disrupt the old ways. The fear surfaces when the question of what next? And How to adapt? Pop up, and the status quo is threatened or disrupted. The legal profession stands out as one of the most conservative professions in human history, often regarded as the noblest profession and the common man’s last hope. As a self-regulated profession, it could be considered to have immunity from other external forces or challenges. However, in recent times, this is no longer the case as Artificial intelligence (AI) is extending its roots into the legal profession; fast becoming a challenge to all law students, members of the bench and the bar.

With the advent of AI, there is a general notion that machines have come to assume control over humans, and there is no hope for humanity. Likewise, in the legal profession, the advent of AI comes with a dilemma that machines will assume many lawyers’ jobs in the near future. It may be true that intelligent software engines/tools cut down the number of lawyers needed in many law firms. However, this paper’s draftsmen have concocted various perspectives on whether the machines would indeed take over lawyers in the future.

Regarding a celebrated case in this discourse, there appears to have been an adjustment in the way and manner the legal profession is being regarded in recent years. An American Case; Lola v. Skadden[1] revealed a unique position of the meaning of ‘practice of law’. In the decision, the Second Circuit held that “the tasks that could otherwise be performed entirely by a machine could not be said to fall under the practice of law” [2]. It is evident that this decision is not binding on Nigerian courts but creating awareness concerning what is to be expected in the future is crucial. We would have to adapt to this new ‘normal’ spreading like wildfire and bend to AI technology’s influence on law, like other countries. With the effect AI is having on the legal profession, the interruption has prompted many to ask the question; if machines can improve, does the world still need lawyers?

THE EFFECT OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ON THE EMPLOYABILITY/PRACTICE OF LAWYERS

Artificial intelligence mimics certain operations of the human mind. Based on the various evolutions taking place in today’s world, artificial intelligence is a wild-card changing how legal work is carried out.

Yes, the use of artificial intelligence has massively accelerated progress in the legal world which is mind-blowing—from increased efficiencies to enhanced effectiveness, to reliability, consistency, and accuracy, making it possible for firms of all sizes to compete equally, making it easy and quick for firms to conduct legal research, due diligence and predicting legal outcomes. Furthermore, it has created more opportunities for learning and development and .an increased access to justice and helps lawyers provide the best services for their clients.

Now, the big question is, will Artificial intelligence affect the employability of lawyers or have an impact on the work of lawyers?

The answer to this question is Yes and No. AI would have a negative and positive effect on the employability of lawyers, and here are some reasons why: The emergence and widespread application of AI do not come without its hitches.

Firstly, it will take a while before lawyers get used to how some of these machines work. This is because of the complex and sophisticated nature of some artificial intelligence.

  • Limitation of jobs in specific areas: Artificial intelligence creates new sets of jobs and can also limit jobs. For example, we have AI systems which can carry out legal research, conduct due diligence, review contracts, among other things. This will create a massive decline in the employment of people who usually carry out these jobs because the firms have gotten a more comfortable and faster way to do these things so that is why lawyers especially young lawyers need to develop themselves in such a way that they can offer more than just surface duties.
  • Overdependence on technology: AI could be very detrimental to the legal industry because it could lead to the legal industry’s dehumanization, which should not be. There needs to be a balance in the application of AI to the legal industry.

Also, it would serve as a disadvantage for lawyers who yet to be dynamic in their dealings, those who refuse to adapt to the digital era; they would find it hard to keep up with the evolutionary trend of technology, as the adoption of AI requires lawyers/ new-age lawyers to acquire new technological skills. Lawyers need to be well-grounded with technological skills like deep learning, machine learning, and computational technology to climb up the professional ladder.

However, to every disadvantage, there is a corresponding advantage. It could be considered that there are more positive effects than the negatives in the operation of AI in relationship with the legal profession. The advantages of the emergence of Artificial Intelligence in the legal space cannot be overemphasized and here are some reasons why;

One of the advantages that are so clear is that AI helps the lawyers and judges save time and cost. Often, excessive amounts of money and time are expended to locate various resources to solve legal issues manually; AI will solve more problems and help lawyers work more efficiently.[3]

  • Creation of Jobs: the emergence of Artificial intelligence will help to create more data analytics jobs that can tap into the legal datasets and generate actionable insights to improve the practice of law, and also a new set of jobs like legal software experts, legal engineers, designing and writing algorithms for AI, proofreading and reviewing assisted legal work products[4]
  • Quality work of a lawyer will not be affected: Artificial intelligence cannot replace lawyers, because when it comes to the legal profession, much human interaction is required, and the capability of a lawyer to quickly comprehend and adjust to sudden unexpected changes is just something that AI might not be able to do, based on the fact that they are programmed to respond a certain way. Apart from this; another reason is that it is the task of an attorney to explore and find alternatives to litigation, including negotiations, mediations which Artificial intelligence might find it hard to do.[5]
  • It enhances change: With deep learning and machine learning penetrating the profession, new age lawyers need a working knowledge of technology to climb up the professional ladder, thereby fostering a good change within the legal industry.[6]
  • It encourages continuous learning: With the evolution of AI, it creates room to acquire new knowledge. As lawyers, we must recognize that times are changing, so we must learn to change with these times to better ourselves in our pursuit for a legal career to make a difference and AI. It is the beginning of something new, something magnificent, so we should not see AI as a threat, but as a means to improve.
  • Due Diligence: One of the essential task that attorneys perform in the interest of their client is the affirmation of facts and figures, and altogether evaluating a legal circumstance. While broad due diligence can positively affect long haul investors return, the cycle can likewise be tedious and tedious. Lawyers need to conduct an exhaustive examination for significant outcomes. In that capacity, attorneys are likewise inclined to errors and mistake when doing spot checks. Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovation proffers a doable answer for these issues. Whenever executed in due determination measures, AI is equipped for playing out a more exact due industriousness contract survey via searching, highlighting, and extricating significant substance for analysis. The Lawyer would need to modify the kind of information that should be extricated from examined reports, and the software will at that point convert it to accessible content.

CONCLUSION

The legal world will be left with the dilemma of choosing between actual lawyers and robots. Many have been agitating that the emergence of Artificial intelligence is not exactly right for law and lawyers in Nigeria. This agitation comes from various apparent reasons. This work stands with the notion that AI has come to aid and assist the lawyers and not replace them. AI robots will most likely not be able to takeover arguing in the courts or critically analyzing the law. Therefore, AI is something that we should embrace, as it is already becoming a significant part of the legal sphere, and we most definitely cannot avoid it. New age lawyers need to seize the opportunity they have and be more acquainted with AI and its application in law, so they are not left behind. The draftsmen posits that, the adoption of artificial intelligence in the legal profession is the beginning of new normal in the legal world and definitely not the end but a bend.

REFERENCES

[1] No. 14-3845-cv, 2015 WL 4476828 (2d Cir. July 23, 2015)

[2] Ibid

[3] ‘ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND LAWYERS IN NIGERIA | BAM & GAD SOLICITORS’ (BAM & GAD SOLICITORS, 2019) https://www.bamandgadsolicitors.com.ng/artificial-intelligence-and-lawyers-in-nigeria/#:~:text=Artificial%20Intelligence%20will%20only%20aid%20and%20make%20lawyers%20work%20more%20efficient.&text=Law%20firms%20in%20Nigeria%20are,with%20help%20of%20its%20tools. Accessed February 1 2021.

[4] INDIA TODAY, how careers in law will be affected by the emergence of artificial intelligence. https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/jobs-and-careers/story/how-careers-in-law-will-be-affected-by-the-emergence-of-artificial-intelligence/

[5] Bam and Gad solicitors, artificial intelligence and lawyers in Nigeria, https://www.bamandgadsolicitors.com.ng

[6]INDIA TODAY, how careers in law will be affected by the emergence of artificial intelligencehttps://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/jobs-and-careers/story/how-careers-in-law-will-be-affected-by-the-emergence-of-artificial-intelligence/

AUTHORS’ PROFILE;

ELEBUTE JOSHUA A. (AUTHOR)

Joshua is a decided undergrad of law with a showed enthusiasm for Intellectual property law, Arbitration, LegalTech and other areas yet to be discovered. He’s a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). As an undergrad, he created aptitudes that empower him to include an incentive in any position he gets himself. He is a functioning individual from his school’s Moot and Mock society departments, Client Counselling and Tech Savvy Law Students’ Club (TSL) Babcock University Chapter and some other organizations.

He has successfully acquired soft skills from various organizations such as Leadership, Team Organization, Teamwork, Public Organization, having held the post of Dir. Of Protocol of LAWSAN BU Chapter 19/20. He has also acquired other skills such as Team Building, Networking, Managing People, Editorial skills amongst many others at Diverse Law, which he actively engages. He presently holds the workplace of the Scribe Exchequer of LAWSAN BU Chapter.

JESSICA OBODO-ELUE (CO-AUTHOR).

Jessica is an exceptional and articulate 400 Level Law Student at the Prestigious Babcock University. She is a student member at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Nigerian Branch) as well as a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

In 2020, she was appointed as a Justice in LAWSAN Babcock chapter and earlier this year she was appointed as the Head of Research for the Diverse Law Scholarship Hub. She is a critical thinker, versatile, resilient and ultimately goal-driven. She is a budding lawyer with an interest in International Law, Commercial Law, Family Law, Technology & Law and Mergers & Acquisitions.

She also participates in various activities like podcasting and to facilitate her interest she founded and created her own podcast called Jessica Diaries, where very important issues like Rape, Mental health issues and the concept of feminism and so on are discussed and dissected.

WILLIAMS OLUSOLA CHRISTIANA (CO-AUTHOR)

Olusola is a determined undergraduate of Law at Babcock University with a demonstrated interest in Technology, Family Law, Tax Law and other pivot areas yet to be discovered. During the course of her academic pursuit she has shown her leadership traits by being group leaders for some groups in her academic journey.

Olusola is passionate about learning, impacting lives, and contributing her one cent to ensuring the world is a better place. Her drive for self-development pushes her to ensure everyone around her becomes the best version of themselves. She does this through speaking and engaging in conversations around the various subject matter.

She is skilled at legal writing and research, is highly involved in on-campus academic and extra-curricular activities.

N.B. YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHORS ON THEIR FOLLOWING PROFESSIONAL NETWORK.

LINKEDIN – JOSHUA ELEBUTE, JESSICA OBODO ELUE, CHRISTIANA WILLIAMS

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