BROOKLYN, New York. When a 19-year old tech wunderkind’s chat bot went viral, some claimed that it had the potential to change the legal landscape forever. According to TechCrunch, the chat bot offers automated answers to common legal questions. Currently, the bot can help people fill out maternity leave forms, dispute a parking ticket, and address landlord contract violations. However, the company wants to expand the chat bot’s capabilities, possibly expanding into divorce law.
According to the Atlantic, we are entering the age of the robo-lawyer. Some lawyers already use AI programs to help them process hundreds of verdicts to discover trends.
But will chat bots really replace divorce lawyers any time soon? Chat bots seem to only work in straightforward areas of the law, like minor ticket offenses and for filling out basic forms. When it comes to more complex legal questions, such as divorce, seeing a lawyer in person is still best. While some AI specialists are optimistic that divorce bots would someday be able to comb through hundreds or even thousands of previous judgements to help clients chart a course forward, AI programs remain unable to navigate the nuance of human emotions and human decision-making. AI works statistically, not emotionally.
Divorce, however, is a highly-emotionally charged area of the law. Not only do divorcing couples need to divide property, debts, and assets, but they must make decisions about child custody, parenting time, visitation, and find compromises about disagreements when considering how the children will be raised. These are not easy questions that a computer program can answer. A skilled mediator and divorce lawyer can help families find resolutions that work—on a human scale.
However, law AI programs may be able to help poorer individuals navigate some simpler areas of the law. In the case of simplified divorce with no assets and no children, some states have even turned to easier processes that require minimal legal aid.
Yet, with automation comes the risk that the errors in our AI programs will spill over into errors in how law is done. Already AI programs that dole out sentencing terms to convicted criminals have come under fire for using things such as geography, age, and personal relationships to determine recidivism rates. While the programs are not permitted to use race, factors like housing, relationships, and employment can pigeon-hole certain convicts. Once the AI starts to show a bias, it can be very difficult to change its assessment, unless a correction is made early on.
The same could be true were a divorce computer program used to handle divorce cases. Would it start to favor mothers over fathers for child custody? Would it favor a wealthier better connected parent over the poorer, least-connected one? At the end of the day, divorce is a very human litigation process, and individuals will most likely want to be helped by a human on the other end of the line.
The Elliot Green Law Offices are divorce lawyers in Brooklyn, New York who offer our clients the personal attention they need and deserve. Our firm takes the time to review each client’s case, understand their family life, and goals, and helps each client find the child custody arrangement, divorce settlement, and division of assets that is both fair and in accordance with the law. If you are considering filing for divorce, visit us today at https://www.elliotgreenlaw.com/ to learn more.