Robots won’t replace lawyers says tech chief
The chief technology officer at top-25 firm DWF has said that artificial intelligence systems will be the key IT development for the next five years at least.Speaking at a conference in Manchester, Richard Hodkinson (pictured) revealed his own firm has been in discussions about developing AI for the last two years.Law firms are showing increasing levels of interest in how artificial intelligence engines that create automated processes can be used to improve efficiency and bring down costs.Hodkinson said the AI attractive to the legal sector will be different to that which is commonly envisaged – and he sought to dispel the idea that systems can replace the expertise of lawyers.Speaking at the Jepson Holt conference, he said: ‘What is being talked about in the press is not what we’re looking at.‘[We want] systems that learn. The answer might change depending on the experiences the systems are acquiring. It is systems that are starting to think. What is in the press is more about cognitive ability.‘My dream for this is not aiming to threaten the role of a lawyer [but] potentially enhance it. There is a lot the system can do on your behalf and if we get it right the system will make early calls on the direction we need to go in.’Hodkinson explained that self-learning systems will improve based on the data uploaded, but ‘we’re not at that stage yet’.He added: ‘It is a big investment but it will feed the IT agenda for the next five years – it is not a passing fad.’Speaking at the same conference, David Berragan, relationship director at Barclays, said law firms will experience ‘fundamental change’ because of new technologies, but it is a process that may take 10 years to evolve.‘From my discussions with [law] firms I’m not sure [AI] is happening yet,’ he added.