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AI Beats Lawyers at Issue-Spotting NDAs

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Did you ever have that moment when someone soundly beat you at an intellectual task?

Maybe it was in law school when a student finished the test 20 minutes before everyone else and aced it. Or maybe another candidate got the law job you wanted.

Even if you were that guy, all that is about to change. Robots are better than lawyers now at the threshold of legal analysis.


In an issue-spotting contest between lawyers and legal bots, AI smashed the competition. LawGeex software outperformed attorneys in spotting issues in non-disclosure agreements.

The robot was right 94 percent of the time; the lawyers, 85. But here's the really embarrassing part: while the lawyers took an average of 92 minutes, the smart bot took 26 seconds. Talk about finishing early!

"Participating in this experiment really opened my eyes to how ridiculous it is for attorneys to spend their time creating or reviewing documents like NDA's which are so fundamentally similar to one another," said Grant Gulovsen, an attorney in the competition, which included lawyers from Cargill and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Gulovsen took it in stride, acknowledging that the software could "free up skilled attorneys to spend their time on higher-level tasks without having to hire paralegal support." That's another way of saying, "I hope I'll still have a job."

Job Spotting

It's not really news that robots will take over lawyer jobs, but that future is already here.

A year ago, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 23 percent of a lawyer's job could be automated. Since then, a lot of law jobs have disappeared.

Todd Solomon, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago, said there are fewer opportunities for young lawyers. The economy is partly to blame, he said, but AI is also taking jobs.

"If I was the parent of a law student, I would be concerned a bit," he said.

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