I went to the Janders Dean Legal Horizons conference a few weeks ago. (The conference website is down, but you can search #JDCK17 on social media for reactions.). I went in expecting to hear about the cutting edge of legal tech – and, yes, there was the required blockchain talk – but I noticed a decidedly non-techie pattern to the presentations.
Basically, the importance of being human and skills like listening and empathy were emphasized over and over again.
The law is a messy endeavor. As I like to say, “you can’t write an algorithm for ‘because fuck you, that’s why.’. And some interactions in law are based on irrational motives like that. There will always need to be the human counselor aspect needed in a lawyer’s toolkit.
So when we’re revamping the curriculums of law schools around the country, let’s not forget to add in some human skills classes along with the tech.
On a tangentially related note, legal chatbots have been percolating to the surface of the legal internet lately. They’re not that hard to make, techwise, and I had an awful thought the other day: “Someone is going to make a purposefully incorrect chatbot to show that they can be wrong.” Then cue the internet drama. I mean, of course, duh, if you deliberately make something act badly, it will. And it’s entirely possible that someone without proper legal knowledge will accidentally make a bad one that could steer a client wrongly.
It’s important to remember that legal tech tools are just that – tools. They are all fallible depending on what the humans making feed into them. Yes, even so boring they fade into the woodwork legal research tools.
So anyway…humans and humanity. Still a very necessary part of legal innovation.