Kristi Erasmus, Chrissie Lightfoot, Jackie Nagtegaal and Delia McArthur at the Futures Law Faculty event

Chrissie is an Advisor to many legal and entrepreneur institutions around the world, a well-known legal futurist author of the book “Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer” and the person behind the robot lawyer “LISA”. Chrissie won “Legal Professional of the Year 2013” amongst a number of other awards.

There are many other accomplishments Chrissie has achieved, but too many to mention here.

Futures Law Faculty hosted a fantastic event this last Thursday at the Red and Yellow Creative Space in Salt River Cape Town, with Chrissie Lightfoot as the guest speaker.

I don’t want to steal the content and thunder of the powerful talk by Chrissie but thought I would share a few powerful points that were raised by her talk.

The purpose of her talk was that she wanted to push lawyers to start thinking about artificial intelligent solutions for their firms, as the reality of it, was that this technology was already here and happening in all aspects of legal markets around the globe. Also, we should not be scared of the technology, but embrace it where there are opportunities within the law firm.

I find that South African lawyers very quickly adopt the attitude of “That may work there, but it does not apply to our environment”, which is rather short sighted, as an example have a look at many of the great achievements in law technology happening in Australia, they learnt from other countries and then adopted what was applicable to them and in a lot of aspects have overtaken the rest of the world.

Mankind is going through a technical renaissance globally; everyone is pushing the boundaries to try and get the competitive edge. Challenges we faced before, now have solutions by use of technology, so we solve problems faster and more efficiently.

In the beginning when man created fire, it was good and he used it for light, cooking and warmth – but remember fire could also be used for bad, by burning things or possessions of others. With technology and AI we need to ensure we look at embracing it for the good and not the bad. We should always ask ourselves the question, “Could we, Would we and Should we”, when we are addressing human-affecting technology. Sometimes it is possible, but the effect on human kind would be detrimental to our existence.

In 2045 computers will be a billion times more powerful than the human brain.

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering said, “2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion-fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”

For an example machines learning at a rapid pace, look at the speed at which AlphaZero taught itself to play Chess, Go and Shogi and applied moves that humans had not even contemplated up until now.

Going forward with technology (AI and document assembly automated answer driven template type solutions), lawyers are going to have to adjust their billing models, automated contract will be a fraction of the price of contracts created by humans – and the drive for less fees will continue, there will be a definite separation of the pricing structures. And the major drivers creating this pricing divide, will be the customers.

AI/BlockChain/SmartContracts/ChatBots/DocuAssemby – all of these are no longer restricted to the Top 100 Law Firms, there is no reason why you cannot start with a couple of R100 and do small market tests with simpler systems, even if part of that system still requires a fair deal of human work – the idea is to test the concept and then continue to develop it until it becomes a fully automated system.

Chrissie said that there are two types of technology solutions emerging, one is Legal Tech and the other is Law Tech.

Legal Tech, is where the law firms of today find solutions using latest technology trends, and Law Tech is where business outside of law firms find solutions in the legal field and offer these services to the consumer to allow DIY services – like her robot lawyer LISA, which creates contracts based on the answers given to the chatbot system.

There is no reason your firm could not use both AI and human contracts. The chatbot could initiate the contract and draft the basic contract, and then pass the contract onto the human lawyer to work with more bespoke aspects of the contract.

Another thought to remember, is if you are not offering your client a more efficient tech service for things like standard contracts, they are going to choose other law tech system that are already available.

Law firms and intelligence machines will be better together. Don’t end up being the last old school human lawyer that has to turn off the lights when they leave!

Chrissie had plenty more information in her presentation, I did not want to share it all. My advice to you is to attend or watch a video of her talks – she knows the market, knows what AI is capable of and has the experience with LISA to share concrete advice on this very fast paced trend that is swooping in on the legal market.

Well done to the team at Futures Law Faculty for hosting a very successful and interesting presentation. Keep an eye open for future events from Futures Law Faculty.


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