Across the state of New York, new legal technologies continue to transform the legal sector, provoking waves of anxiety about the future of the legal profession. These waves were felt at the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York City earlier this year. The forum hosted a session titled “Emerging Technologies in Litigation,” the purpose of which was to discuss the changing role of technology in the courtroom—particularly the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
Participants learned that AI is already a fairly well-established phenomenon in the legal sector, even if attorneys have never interfaced with a legal tech product directly. Consider the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) program. According to one participant, the Hon. Melissa Crane of the New York City Civil Court, COMPAS uses AI in a risk assessment program, a tool that makes decisions about the kind of supervision an offender will receive. These decisions are based on an AI-algorithm that weighs the personal characteristics of an offender as well as their responses to specific questions. There is just one small problem. Algorithms don’t always work. Right?