Lawyers should embrace AI, not be ‘scared’ – top British civil judge

Lawyers should embrace AI, not be ‘scared’ – top British civil judge

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) – Lawyers have nothing to fear from the growing use of artificial intelligence or the rise of online dispute resolution, one of Britain’s most senior judges has said, declaring that “lawyers are never, ever going to be out of business.”

Geoffrey Vos – the head of civil justice in England and Wales – told Reuters on Thursday it is “inevitable” AI will increasingly be used in the legal sector, where it has already been adopted by global law firm Allen & Overy and 4,000 legal professionals at accounting and consulting firm PwC among others.

But despite Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s upgraded model GPT-4 being able to not only pass the bar exam in the United States but outperform most graduates, Vos said AI “certainly does not pose any threat” to the legal profession.

“I am absolutely certain that AI will have a part to play in nearly every aspect of our lives, so the law will not be exempt,” Vos said. “And I am equally clear (that) one should not be scared of it.”

As the Master of the Rolls, a title dating to the 13th century which makes him the second most senior judge in England and Wales, Vos has been at the forefront of the ongoing digitisation of the civil justice system.

As part of the reforms, certain types of cases – for example, low-value personal injury claims – must be filed through an online portal.

He said there had been “pushback” from some legal professionals, but rejected concerns that the reforms will hit lawyers.

“It is not true that lawyers will be diminished by quick dispute resolution,” Vos said. “In fact, they will get more work, as is always the case. As life becomes more complex, there is going to be more dispute, not less dispute.”

A digital justice system will mean lawyers do not need to do “the grunt work,” he added.

“There are so many disputes in a society of 60 million people that we have to have a mechanism for resolving small disputes in different, more innovative ways,” Vos said.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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