Longtime Ontario family lawyer Russell Alexander is working on a new book coming out later this year which explores how artificial intelligence could reshape the legal system, one of the first to take a closer look at the rapidly developing field.
The book will look at applications for AI chatbots for things like predicting the outcomes of cases, contract analysis, legal research and even discovery, the process in a lawsuit where lawyers look at large volumes of material such as email or company documents in order to uncover potential wrongdoing.
“A lot of lawyers are concerned that AI will replace lawyers, but it’s far more likely that they’ll change the job instead,” said Alexander who is founder of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers. “You might see a lawyer use chatbots to draft filings or do research on case law, then check the work the same way that they currently use a paralegal.”
With AI-driven chatbots making the news for passing law school exams, Alexander said it was important to take a step back and look at the broader implications for everything from the cost of getting a divorce to how judges write opinions. The book will be the first from a Canadian family lawyer on the practical effects of this emerging topic in the field of law, as others have been more about corporate law or academic subjects.
Alexander is author of the Amazon bestsellers “The Path to a Successful Divorce” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Divorce” and wrote an equally important book last year about how teleconferencing programs like Zoom are changing the divorce landscape.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Alexander was an advocate for so-called “Zoom divorces,” pressing Ontario’s court system to keep the teleconferencing option in place even as courthouses opened back up for business because they helped cut costs and expanded access to lawyers for clients who previously couldn’t find representation in their area.
He said that AI has some of the same potential advantages, as it could help cut costs for people who need lawyers for everyday matters like drafting a will or getting a divorce.
“The legal profession is very tradition-minded, and that can lead it to be slower to adopt new technology,” he added. “But the goal of the legal system is not to help lawyers do business the way they always have, it’s to help our clients at a moment of need.”