Following her participation in a Solicitors Regulation Authority seminar on AI, Tasnim Khalid at Private Client Solicitors argues that whilst the technology offers enormous potential benefits for the legal profession and its clients, its adoption still requires the human touch to avoid complications. 


It could be said that we have become something of a ‘smug generation’, at least where technology is concerned.

Not too many years ago, suggestions for the kind of devices which we now take for granted were firmly rooted in the realms of science fiction.

However, regular advances in both materials and computing power have not only given us the ability to live our lives more conveniently but to do our jobs remotely and even more efficiently than ever before.

However, in the 15 years since I qualified as a solicitor, I cannot recall any development which has caused as much uncertainty as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Even if we discount the dystopian worldview which ‘thinking’ technology may conjure up for people who have seen too many ‘Terminator’ movies, there remain concerns about AI’s likely impact on those who work within the legal profession and those individuals and organisations which it serves.

Anyone glancing at just the top lines of a report published in 2021 by the Law Society exploring future challenges for the industry will have been perturbed by the possibility of large-scale job losses.

Yet just a few years later, those who have sought to really understand AI’s practical potential instead of simply ignoring it have found that things are not as bad as feared.

Earlier this year, the Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice, Sir Geoffrey Vos, gave a speech in which he reassured his audience that “there is nothing scary about AI”.

Yet that was far from his most significant or salient piece of advice.

Sir Geoffrey went on to describe how the use of AI “may rapidly become necessary in order to perform workplace duties”.

“We all owe a duty to those we serve”, he continued, “to make constructive use of whatever technology is available if it helps to provide a better, quicker and more cost-effective service to clients and the public”.

I completely agree. In fact, when launching Private Client Solicitors, we recognised the advantage of embracing AI in order to improve our clients’ experience by allowing our lawyers to concentrate on giving the legal advice required.

We invested time, money and effort in comprehending how AI works and, equally, the extent of its application.

Our AI platform is named Xeena and, as useful and efficient as it has already proven to be in helping us manage a rapidly expanding practice, it certainly does not have a free hand.

The trained lawyers in our firm check whatever material is produced to ensure that it is accurate.

Even with human input, the process is still faster than it would be if purely done in the time-served manner.

In my opinion, it has been a fundamental part of our progress and offers great potential into the future.

My exposure to AI is one reason why I was asked to take part in an event organised by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority about the “practical challenges and opportunities” which the technology presents.

Despite being an advocate of its use, though, I am firmly against a headlong and ill-considered rush to use AI because of its novelty without due research.

If that happened, more lawyers might find themselves in the same position as the New York attorney who was last year brought before a court for having one AI model do research only to find that the cases were not legal fact but computer fiction.

Guarding against such situations and what Sir Geoffrey Vos described as “ill-intentioned people” is why many individuals are keen to see regulation of AI.

In recent days, for instance, a parliamentary bill to establish a new body to address regulation in the UK has had its third reading in the House of Lords.

Whatever shape the AI-powered future takes is still to be determined but, as reports like the one published by academics from three leading US universities concluded, the legal profession is among those most likely to be affected by the technology’s “language modelling capabilities”.

I am convinced that it is better to engage with and harness the potential of AI for the betterment of clients and our industry than to straight-arm such developments and face the consequences.