AI and the legal profession: ethical and regulatory considerations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Legal and other professional services are entering the fourth industrial age, with predictions that fundamental technological transformation will result in massive disruption to lawyers, legal services and legal systems. AI may yet not have seriously disrupted professional service markets, but with increased commodification of products and services in global law and accountancy firms,
these sectors are ripe for change. This may impact the way in which the legal and financial systems operate within countries and across countries that
may have profound consequences for all in society.

AI raises fundamental questions about the reach, limits and appropriateness of current legislative and regulatory frameworks governing their use. There are ethical challenges and risks for professionals, businesses, consumers, governments and nation states. These powerful technologies might be employed to reduce social inequality and improve access to justice, alongside
enhancing productivity and wealth. They may also lead to invasions of privacy, herald an era of greater state or business surveillance of individuals, provide a means for increased authoritarian control and/or greater societal inequality. Lawyers can, and must, play a key role in securing the rule of law, the protection of rights, good governance and fair decision-making in this new context.
This paper considers the use of AI systems in legal services and the justice system. It suggests ways in which technology may be harnessed by
lawyers and beyond to provide legal help to clients. It touches upon some regulatory and ethical challenges that are yet to be addressed including the powerlessness of jurisdictional boundaries in a virtual age and the powerfulness
of those with access to big data to develop AI in a legal context.

The paper also considers, in brief, issues of transparency of decision-making, data quality and inferences drawn from data, professional responsibility and ethics, liability, public acceptance and by implication public trust. These
discussions are framed within a discussion of the likely impact that these changes may bring to our legal systems and ways in which the rule of law
may be strengthened or weakened depending on approaches to regulation of AI technologies and their use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication경제규제와 법(Journal of Law & Economic Regulation)
Place of PublicationSeoul, South Korea
PublisherSeoul National University
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019


  • AI and the legal profession
  • regulation
  • ethics
  • rule of law
  • public trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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