AI – Artificial Intelligence – has been in the news lately. Unless you are entirely off the grid, I am sure you have heard of AI before (and if you are entirely off the grid, you would not have found this article, but I digress). AI has become an incredibly valuable tool for many industries, including the legal field. While AI can be a helpful tool, I believe most people will continue to prefer working with lawyers because they need and value the personalized attention, expertise, and compassion that only a human can provide.
By its nature, family law is an intensely personal matter that requires a personal touch. Understandably, some people may feel more comfortable working with a flesh-and-blood lawyer who can offer emotional support and guidance throughout the legal process. Computers are not warm or fuzzy, nor do their offices come stocked with tissues. The convenience of automated forms and predictive text – more on that below – will not outweigh the personalized attention and expertise only a lawyer can offer.
Do-it-yourself legal forms have been around for as long as I have been practicing law, and they have their place. For truly uncomplicated matters – cases a judge in my area describes as ones that can be resolved with a paystub and a calendar –easy-to-use forms can be a godsend for people without resources to hire a lawyer. That said, I have seen too many poorly drafted legal documents from automated programs come across my desk. Some can be fixed, some cannot, and it takes a lawyer’s expertise and skill to know the difference.
Technological advances in law have been significant and have improved the practice. I came of legal age in the era of internet-based research and cannot fathom the hours of book research it took to write comparatively simple legal briefs. Just like the internet did not replace the need for bright law clerks, AI may change how some tasks get done, but what AI won’t change is how family lawyers provide the needed human touch for their clients.