RR&H is thrilled to announce the publication today of “The Laws of (Legal) Robotics”, our first working paper.
The short paper provides an account of the likely future state of legal technology, and how state courts have dealt with automation in the law through unauthorized practice of law (UPL) rules. The report argues that existing approaches taken during the 1990s and 2000s are simultaneously over and underinclusive, and ultimately work to hinder innovation in the legal industry.
It proposes a new framework drawing inspiration from the problems faced by online platforms in managing third-party development through APIs. By applying similar design principles to legal automatons, it is believed that a better policy balance may be struck going forwards. Downloadable here (PDF).
Been talking about it in abstract for awhile, but interested to finally see that we have a real, live case study of courts being hit with a type of denial of service attack through leveraging some simple automated legal systems, here in the debt collections world:
Collection law firms are able to handle such large volumes of cases because computer software automates much of their work. Typically, a debt buyer sends a law firm an electronic database that contains various data about consumers, including name, home address, the outstanding balance, the date of default and whether interest is still accruing on the account.
Once the data is obtained by a law firm, software like Collection-Master from a company called Commercial Legal Software can “take a file and run it through the entire legal system automatically,” including sending out collection letters, summonses and lawsuits, said Nicholas D. Arcaro, vice president for sales and marketing at the company.
No group has definitive statistics on debt collection lawsuits, but federal regulators, collection lawyers and judges say the numbers have increased and are straining the court system.
Interested in seeing how the courts respond to this type of tech going forwards — though largely it’ll just tend towards incentivizing more sophisticated automation/outsourcing rather than stuffing the genie back in the bottle, I think.