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AI technology and the justice system



While AI technology has stirred some concern over job security, regulation and privacy it has also helped streamline processes, improve efficiencies and provide many sectors with a competitive edge. But how will AI impact the legal sector? As a Senior judge considers the role of AI in law courts in a recent address for the Manchester Law Society, we look at the role of AI in the UK justice system.


AI in the legal sector

AI is already being used in legal firms, including the use of tools for dictation, system automation, chatbots to help clients and due diligence solutions, for example. The use of these tools can help with productivity by removing the more cumbersome tasks, freeing up time for other jobs and client focussed work. It can also help with the admin associated with bringing on a new client, and performing legal checks.


AI technology guidance for judicial office holders 

At the end of 2023, non-binding Guidance for Judicial Office Holders’ was issued to outline the uses of AI and how it can support admin tasks such as putting together documents, writing emails and creating presentations, but also highlighting the areas where the technology can be unreliable and what it is not capable of.


The use of Generative AI

Image, audio and text content creation are all examples of what Generative AI can create, and have proved popular in recent times. The applications used to produce this content are built on the foundation of Large Language Models which can understand and produce human-like text using vast amounts of data.


While many organisations have been using or considering the use of LLMs, there are some drawbacks to it. For instance, as they usually contain large amounts of data that has been taken from the internet, it can be difficult to ascertain the validity of it, and to remove any inaccurate or one-sided content from it.


Identifying AI content

According to the Judicial Guidance, there are a series of AI capabilities that can prove helpful, including some administrative tasks, as well as tasks that are not recommended using AI. This includes using AI tools for legal research and legal analysis, for instance using public AI chatbots.


The guide also provides direction on whether or not work could have been produced by AI. This includes content that has references to unfamiliar cases, submissions with US spelling or references to overseas cases. It may also include errors that are less obvious at first sight.


In terms of the use of AI in Courts and Tribunals, the non-binding guidance advises that there should be an understanding of AI applications and their limitations, for example, that the nature of the prompts entered will contribute to the quality of the answers given. There should also be an awareness of possible bias in the results and the need to follow best practice to maintain security, such as using work email addresses and devices, and not personal ones.


The future

It seems that AI is already aiding the legal profession in the form of allowing lawyers to have more time to concentrate on valuable and less mundane tasks involved in the profession.


We have seen a rapid trajectory for AI development over just the last few years, and it seems that we can expect more. There are likely to be more capable AI tools available that are able to manage more intricate and complex tasks, in turn, further supporting those in the legal profession.

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