Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Expensive Lawyers Being Replaced by Robo-Lawyers

Expensive Lawyers Being Replaced by Robo-Lawyers
By Cynthia Hsu
October 11, 2011

Attorneys everywhere: watch out. You might get outsourced soon, replaced by an army of hard-working robo-lawyers.

No, robo-lawyers aren't android-like machines sporting pinstripes and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger from "Terminator."

Instead, these automated machines are more like software. They can process disputes and help settle claims, much like a regular attorney. Except at a fraction of the cost. This is why even large global companies like General Electric are turning to "robotic" help.

GE is currently testing out the computer program in Italy. Right now it's being used mainly on disputes amounting to $65,000 and less.

Why the computerized help? Doesn't GE want to pay lawyers hundreds of dollars per billable hour? Guess not.

As it turns out, sometimes it's just not worth it to hire an attorney. GE says that it costs around $10,000 to pursue a claim through typical arbitration methods. So if you're trying to settle a claim that is only worth $10,000, arbitration seems extremely expensive.

It makes sense that they'd want to cut costs somehow.

And it seems like a step toward the future. More and more work these days are outsourced to computers and actual robots. There's the iRobot Roomba, a robot that could smartly vacuum your house. There's also Asimo, Honda's take on a humanoid robot.

Basically, we might need to prepare for a future where robots will take over all. Maybe robots will soon drive our cars, wash our clothes, and do all our legal work for us.

Is that really such a bad thing? Maybe a robo-lawyer will actually be more friendly and personable than a real attorney already lacking in social skills.

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