Would you like to have your case handled by a robotic attorney?

Given the fast pace of technological development, people from many professions around the world are worried about losing their jobs and being replaced by machines.  I thought how good it was that I am a lawyer. No machine can replace me, no machine will ever have a brain and analyse a legal case, right? Unfortunately, I was proved wrong last month.

Last month, IBM introduced ROSS. ROSS is an artificial intelligence developed by a cognitive computer called Watson, inter alia a Jeopardy! champion. ROSS is the first artificial intelligent attorney, and this cheeky new-born has already landed a job at a New York-based law firm Baker and Hostetler, even without passing the bar exam! How unfair!

ROSS understands natural languages, answers questions and formulates hypotheses while he monitors changes in legislation and new case law in the background. 'You ask your questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly,' says the ROSS Intelligence website.

So far his expertise is limited to handling bankruptcy cases, however, development is ongoing. As a proper attorney, ROSS is constantly learning and IBM plans on expanding into other areas of law.

Maybe we, attorneys, should be worried about our jobs now. Maybe we´re all going to be replaced by robots and the courts will be cancelled and replaced by virtual internet rooms where data will be uploaded and analysed and judgements will be rendered within milliseconds. But to be honest, the latter would actually be rather welcome!