The Advent of AI Technology
Last week, I read a tongue-in-cheek post on LinkedIn about what the dockets of a lawyer practising in the 1950’s may have looked like. Humorous entries included everything from fixing jammed typewriters to doing legal research with ancient tomes. This lawyer’s social critique was insightful: technology has greatly improved the private practitioner’s efficiency, but it has not made it easier to meet billable targets. Technological improvements to efficiency are often paired with greater expectations, and at the end of the day are different from the true automation.
However, the advent of AI technologies is changing that. On November 30, 2022, ChatGPT was launched. For those of you who are unfamiliar, ChatGPT is a chat bot which is able to write teleplays, fairy tales, compose music, write and debut computer programs, and even pass law school exams. Most importantly, it is widely available to the public and entirely free to use, representing a major step in AI’s move towards becoming ubiquitous.
The practice of law is intimately rooted in human-to-human communication, an understanding of culture, and at least in litigation, heavily employs strategy and creativity. As a result, we may be a long-way off from AI being able to replace lawyers in arguing an appeal. However, what sort of impact can AI have on certain discrete and repetitive tasks associated with estate planning, administration or litigation?
I decided to ask ChatPGT this question. Amazingly, the following insightful blog was generated within 5 seconds:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way we approach many industries, including the practice of estate law. Estate law, also known as probate law, deals with the distribution of a person’s assets and property after they pass away. As technology advances, AI is becoming more integrated into the legal field, and estate law is no exception.
One way that AI is impacting estate law is through the use of smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement written directly into code. These contracts can be used to automate the distribution of assets, making the probate process more efficient and cost-effective. For example, a smart contract could be set up to automatically distribute assets to beneficiaries upon the death of the individual, eliminating the need for a lengthy and expensive probate process.
Another way that AI is impacting estate law is through the use of virtual legal assistants. These virtual assistants use natural language processing and machine learning to assist lawyers with a variety of tasks, including document review and legal research. This can greatly reduce the amount of time and resources needed to complete estate planning and probate tasks.
AI is also being used to streamline the process of asset management. Estate planning often involves managing a large number of assets, from real estate to stocks and bonds. AI-powered tools can help lawyers and trustees more easily track and manage these assets, helping to ensure that beneficiaries receive their fair share.
Overall, AI is having a significant impact on the practice of estate law. By automating repetitive tasks and streamlining processes, AI is making the probate process more efficient and cost-effective. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more ways in which AI will change the way we approach estate law in the future.
In addition to being a very insightful blog, this tool represents a major step towards true automation.
Perhaps at a date sooner than we think, AI will be commonly used to draft simple wills, apply for probate, or assist trust officers with administering a small and uncomplicated estate. For lawyers, complex legal research which may usually take a matter of hours might be done in seconds. These advances may even have a transformative impact on private practice, away from a billable target model to a fixed rate per task model. The possibilities are endless, and infinitely exciting.
Above all, ChatPGT has answered the most pressing question for this author. Can AI draft a blog for AllAboutEstates.ca, so he can save three hours of his Saturday? The answer was a resounding yes.