Could robot lawyers help you divorce?

family law

As artificial intelligence (AI) improves by leaps and bounds, more and more jobs traditionally done by humans appear to be at risk. The number of self-service checkouts in supermarkets and fast food restaurants is on the rise, deliveries are being done by drone and manufacturing is becoming increasingly robot-friendly.

It doesn’t stop there. If a recent BBC report is to be believed, even lawyers are under threat from the great robot uprising.

Turns out that an AI program called ‘Case Cruncher Alpha’ has bested human lawyers in one test. Both the program and 100 lawyers were given the basic facts regarding hundreds of cases of mis-sold PPI (payment protection insurance) and asked to predict if the claim would ultimately be successful. The human’s had a 66.3 per cent accuracy rate, whereas the AI ran away with this particular contest with an accuracy rate of almost 87 per cent.

But what does this have to do with divorce? Well, the current government is pushing an online divorce system. This is designed to eliminate paperwork and time and save money for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals service. Perhaps this is just the start. If robots can do a better job with PPI cases, why not with divorces?  We could end up with a fully automated divorce system.

Obviously this is a slight exaggeration (for the time being at least!) but is it really a good idea to take the lawyers out of a legal process?

Since the legal aid cuts were enacted, the number of litigants in person has risen significantly. This is causing stress and delays for both the courts and the litigants themselves. People who are not lawyers are bound to make mistakes on matters of law, in the same way that people who are not doctors are bound to make mistakes on matters of medicine. When mistakes are made, cases take longer.

Divorce is often one of the most significant events of someone’s life. The importance of doing it well cannot be overstated. Additionally, divorce is always more than just getting that decree absolute. What happens to the children? Who gets the house? How will the money be split? These are all important issues that can be difficult to face at an emotionally charged time. Having someone who not only knows the law, but understands the human element of this process can only be a benefit.

As society rushes towards a world of AI at breakneck speed, we should remember that humans have not yet outlived their usefulness. This is especially true when it comes to divorce.

If you have any questions about the divorce process and want to talk to one of our solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us. We promise you won’t end up talking to a robot.

Photo by Freddy Alberto Suárez Guerrero via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Tony Hudson

Tony Hudson is the Editorial Assistant for the Marilyn Stowe Family Law & Divorce Blog.

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3 comments

Helen Dudden - November 2, 2017 at 7:58am

My main fear is online facts are not often clearly explained. The rights and the wrongs. I think we have all written emails that are not clearly understood. I know I have. Emotional issues, that’s how I would describe divorce and relationships. As a mother, and great grandmother, I have learnt some valuable lessons.
The emotions felt were strong on the subject of one of close family members. But then that’s what relationships are, based on emotions.
Would an online system be able to understand this is difficult for me. My emotions are raw, I’m hurting.
Talking can relieve the pain. On a post yesterday, it was clearly obvious, someone hurting and very disappointed the relationship had failed. That’s all part of how things are.
I personally feel, more help us needed for those in this situation, children have been caught in the middle, a situation can quickly become unstable.

spinner - November 2, 2017 at 10:14am

“Having someone who not only knows the law, but understands the human element of this process can only be a benefit.” – The solution is to separate out these what I believe are two separate roles. The AI can eventually take over much of the legal work and then a councilor who is experienced in this area can take over the human element. Cost of a decent lawyer >£250 p/h, cost of a decent councilor >£80 p/h the cost savings for everyone will be fantastic and with that we can increase access to the legal system for people who otherwise would be excluded.

Divorce Lawyer - January 30, 2018 at 6:28am

AI programmed lawyers can help you, yes, but robots has limitations and has a big possibility to break down anytime. You’ll never know, it will malfunction during the consultation or a legal proceeding. With a human divorce lawyer, you can be confident that he/she has answer to all your questions regarding your case, with no limitations and where you can be comfortable talking to. Thus, a robotic lawyer may be helpful when it comes to the emotional aspect because they sure can’t be bias at all.

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