A robo-judge does not look like a distant future

A robo-judge does not look like a distant future

Anna Kostyra headed Deloitte Legal in the CIS countries under the motto, “Transformation of Legal Practice.” Last but not least, this change is associated with the actual implementation of LegalTech tools. Today, Deloitte Legal is one of the pioneers in all aspects of the legal industry’s automation. The company uses LegalTech in its practice, offering its clients original solutions. In anticipation of the largest industry conference, Skolkovo LegalTech. Black Edition, we met Anna to discuss the latest trends in the LegalTech market and how the development of technologies would affect the legal profession.


– What are the main skills now required of lawyers in the LegalTech era?

– A lawyer should stop serving  businesses. He should become an effective business partner. LegalTech will allow us to get rid of the routine and free up the resources. A lawyer is an expert who registers risks, and is governed by legal norms. Preparing draft documents is another skill of a lawyer. The latter can already be 90% automated so that lawyers could focus on the paperwork, which requires a higher degree of intellectual involvement. 

While machines take care of routine work, a highly qualified expert will be responsible for managing negotiations. His task is to formulate a client position and get the best conditions for the company. 

Now, let’s talk about the first function. The lawyer has always been perceived as someone that informs you of the risk. However, this approach doesn’t seem to work today, as the risks that were mentioned by the lawyer yesterday are becoming common knowledge for businesses today. From an inhibiting factor, a lawyer becomes a full-fledged partner to be liable for the decisions made.

– Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Russia’s job market became over-saturated with economists and lawyers. Don’t they face a risk of being unemployed due to the development of LegalTech?

– It seems to me that as the time goes by lawyers are joining two waves of experts. First of all, there are lawyers and methodologists who will assist with LegalTech. These are lawyers with IT competencies, capable of making technical assignments, developing functional requirements for the systems to automate the legal function. By the way, this function is going to change, and IT solutions will change, too. New products will emerge. Secondly, there are lawyers and business consultants who will help to promote businesses.

– Which areas of LegalTech are most important now?

– Automated solutions for litigation have become a steady trend. I believe that a judicial role and everything related to a decision-making process can be successfully automated. I know that Estonia is creating an AI-powered judge who will settle small court claims. It will be enough for the plaintiff and the defendant to upload all documents to the website before a program comes to a decision based on the analysis.

Today, we have a strong demand for the products related to the automation of claims and legal responses. There are standard lawsuits and standard responses to lawsuits. Accordingly, legal proceedings may include software-powered analysis of court documents. In this case, obviously, a decision can be made without a person being involved. However, we will always have some purely subjective disputes, creative approaches to protecting a client’s position, a process of proof, and a non-standard and significant proof procedure.  

-You want to say that a situation when a robo-attorney argues with a robo-judge is not that far off?

-A robo-judge is not a distant future anymore. Today, there is a category of disputes settled by a judge without summoning the parties. A statement of claim will be enough. In this event, the absence of review enables a decision-making on fairly clear formal grounds. A judge is acting in line with a given algorithm. The same can be done with the AI  software when a good parsing system is in place. A robo-judge will pass a number of decisions quicker than a human.

We don’t have a system of legal precedents in place, but we have a notion of arbitrary practice, which can be employed by an algorithm. It is true that the arbitration practice should be set first with a human in place, but later on it can be used as an algorithm. Apart from other things, it can solve many ethical issues (for instance, in anticorruption activities). 

Most likely, legal procedures can allow acceleration as a robo-judge is capable of working 24/7. But there are also certain costs. We are well aware of the fact that the legal practice is changing with a change of judges. In the event of deployment of a robo-judge, there is a risk of getting similar court decisions all the time. However, if we have to change our legal practice on one case or the other, the Supreme Court will always be able to ban or cancel a robot’s decision. Changing legal practice will essentially mean a change in the algorithm of a robot-judge of the first instance.

 -How would you rate a ratio of tasks that require legal skills of a lawyer to those that can be automated? 

 – Speaking of in-house lawyers, it is possible to automate about 70% of routine work of the legal department. The situation in consulting looks a bit different. We have been using LegalTech solutions for quick and accurate information research, registration or liquidation of the company and its branches as well as other routine work in consulting.

 In-house lawyers work under different conditions. Every day they have to perform a great number of multiple tasks. Therefore, they need portals to serve internal clients (such as Help Desk and Service Desk), dispute management systems, asset management systems, various constructors for documents. Therefore, the decision on automation may be taken only once the analysis of efficiency is performed.

 -Did you have any cases when a seemingly simple task could not fit into the automation project?

 – The legal function of a contract can be 100% automated. Everything depends on the type of a contract and if a person to make a contract has any degree of freedom.

It is a way more difficult for lawyers to automate solutions for internal clients, which can be compiled in a free form. In this situation, AI may come in handy and make such a Helpdesk a self-learning system. 

At some point, AI will enable us to achieve a very high degree of automation of the things that are difficult to algorithmize, at first sight.

-Can LegalTech change society, in particular, the attitude towards the legal profession?

– The attitude towards the profession is already changing. If some time ago the proffessions of an accountant and financial expert were considered prestigious, now everyone realizes that these professions can be automated. FinTech has already replaced a human. The legal function is much harder to automate, this is not mathematics. Therefore, the legal profession is safer.

Again, there are two types of lawyers: legal experts and lawyers in their purest form. It should be taken for granted. The world is changing, and the legal profession is changing with it. Ten years ago, it was hard for me to imagine that I would be doing what I’m doing now!  Further, I can see how the legal profession has changed in consulting, which statements we used to write earlier and which statements we are writing now.  I can see that the form of submission has changed.  The legal profession is one of the most conservative, but even in this profession the changes are inevitable.

-Why does LegalTech sell worse as compared to other automation functions?

–  There are two reasons for that. First, as I have already said, it is much harder to automate the legal function due to specific features of the profession. The second is the resistance of the legal community. For example, robotization in one of the largest Russian banks in the press was shown as a reduction of costs by reducing the number of lawyers. In my opinion, this approach discredits LegalTech and slows down the automation of the legal function.

 We promote LegalTech under the motto of releasing lawyers from routine, uninteresting work and taking the status of a lawyer to another level.

 – How would you rate the role of LegalTech solutions in business capitalization?

-If under capitalization is understood as the cost increase of intangible assets, the company capitalizes the costs, associated with the development and implementation of LegalTech solutions. But if capitalization is an increase of the value of your business, the positive effect is likely to be achieved through the use of intangible assets by changing the quality of decisions taken with a lawyer and business partner.

-What are the current trends in the LegalTech market? Maybe there are market demands for some things that are not yet available?

-We discussed previously that today there is a big demand for various HelpDesks.  The market offers many isolated IT solutions, however, companies need a unified environment of all departments, taking part in the business project. The professional of Deloitte established Deloitte Legal HUB – a modified platform that represents a common interactive working environment for effective interaction between lawyers and representatives of the company’s business functions. The platform also provides functions of knowledge management, resource management and KPI, collection of statistical data and their analysis.

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