The technological challenge of Legaltech

Technological innovations are ever more numerous and ever more innovative. They add or improve the characteristics of an existing technology. Legal practices and processes are about to be disrupted by the exploitation of artificial intelligence and the mastery of open data.

  • Artificial intelligence, the lawyer of tomorrow

Artificial intelligence is a field of research that includes all the techniques and methods that tend to understand and reproduce the functioning of a human brain. This “discipline” uses algorithmic logic to solve complex problems. It is widely used in recognition, analysis and calculation. As such, it is a real help in many legal tasks. For example, LegalTechs have developed an online solution for managing and analyzing contracts for companies. Artificial intelligence identifies the key elements of the contract and then assigns obligations to it. For example, the technology can identify specific clauses by subjecting it to recognition training, and then it can alert the contractor to the deadline for delivery or initiate delivery to a supplier upon receipt of the money.
AI is also a major breakthrough in the field of legal research. “Ross”, the first robot lawyer hired in a Parisian law firm, is a good example of this phenomenon. When it comes to finding a legal text, the technology is 30% faster than most lawyers. Moreover, participates in this change by proposing to be the new “Google of law”.
The next objective of French law is to introduce artificial intelligence in its justice system. It would help judges or replace them (in some specific cases). We talk about predictive justice.
Leaving free will in the hands of a machine is unthinkable today. Artificial intelligence, and more particularly machine learning, learns from a considerable amount of data. This means that the more data they are given, the more efficient and precise the technology is in carrying out the task it has been ordered to do. Consequently, the robot that would judge in the place of the judges would be based on a multitude of previous cases if one believes the method. On the other hand, French law evolves according to politics and morals, criteria – for the moment – unpredictable for a machine. Nevertheless, the technology is significantly useful for calculating the amount of compensation, as Case Law Analytics and Predictice have shown (although there is always a certain margin of error…).
Beyond legal research, artificial intelligence is proving to be extremely useful to increase the speed of certain tasks. Indeed, technology is taking over a large number of time-consuming legal tasks. The legal professional is freed up and available to perform work with higher added value.
Legal actors will have to learn to work with artificial intelligence. In an increasingly digitized world, this technology is at the heart of technical processes, particularly with the open data policy.

  • The open data revolution

As previously stated, data collection contributes to the improvement and efficiency of artificial intelligence. In fact, data processing and control is a goal in its own right for many LegalTechs.
The Law for a Digital Republic enacted on October 7, 2016 has long promised an “open source” or open access policy for judicial decisions. The first step in this movement was launched by the entry into force of Article L111-13 of the Code of Judicial Organization stating, “Without prejudice to the specific provisions governing access to court decisions and their publicity, decisions rendered by the judicial courts are made available to the public free of charge while respecting the privacy of the persons concerned.” Since then, this article has undergone changes but the content has remained the same. Since then, the major courts of our system, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State, have participated in the open source policy initiated by the legislator. They have indeed made available a flow of decisions from their chambers with a dedicated platform. Although this is a great step forward for the sharing of judicial decisions, a large number of decisions are still not exploited. The decisions of the judicial courts (civil and criminal) as well as those of the commercial courts and the industrial tribunals will have to wait for the next three years to be available to all. Moreover, the collection of data must respect the protection of personal data (in particular with regard to the General Data Protection Regulation) and the privacy of individuals.
The mass of decisions is leading to a craze for LegalTech, allowing for improved research and analysis tools for legal texts based on artificial intelligence.

Branscôme Labarre

Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique

Faculté de droit, de sciences politiques et de gestion de Strasbourg


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