OK, I understand! (Legal Technology, Joanna Goodman) After synching with our fridge, Siri will eventually work out that the change from organic wholefoods to twice the number of microwave meals for one on our shopping list means that we need family therapy or a divorce lawyer – and will automate appointments into our diaries.
Such is the pace of progress I am surprised on a daily basis that my largely demented clients are not having their every need tended to by personal care robots and that my role has not been supplanted by a ‘dialogue… framed by mapping a decision tree to the problem at hand… automatically generating an electronic file that includes all conversations and documents’.
Phew. Siri, try talking inanely about the war for 20 minutes while you gauge whether your client is completely batty or just quaintly eccentric.
We already compete with unregulated advisers, successive governments who allow lawyer-bashing to become a national sport, and a regulatory structure that is simultaneously laughable and horrifying. Now we are confronted by the likes of whip-smart Joshua Browder – friend to the people who can’t be asked to pay for parking – and the evergreen Richard ‘I told you so’ Susskind, who pops up every five years to tell us what is happening next in the UK (clue, it happened last year in the US).
Yes, I can be dismissed as a pieceworker sneering at the Jacquard loom. Denigrating the future is easy. It is forgetting the past which could, however, prove more painful. While I can see the argument for fewer lawyers being attractive (see above – national sport), ought we to abandon the human touch so readily? Where will the real lawyers be who turn out to make house calls when a Siri lawyer is not available because Wi-Fi does not reach the client or the software for Siri 2.0 is not compatible with the original Siri? There is more virtue in reality than, er, virtual reality.
I have met one or two Sheldon Cooper types practising as solicitors (if you do not get the reference you just have to think of the Terminator without the pathological need to kill people) but they are harmless enough. Sure, Josh, you can make anything human into an algorithm but there is no context, no colour and certainly no emotion behind any outcome. Some might think that is right. Others call it lifeless.
Now, where did I put that messy divorce paperwork?
Peter Cox, Prospero Solicitors, Broadstairs, Kent