By Dr. Raphael Christopher

Eternal wisdom and history of the ages of this world unequivocally teaches us that the only constant in life on earth is change.

Changes in laws, changes in society, changes in generations have happened, are happening and will continue to happen.

What is undisputed is that the key driver for all these changes has been one thing – technology.

Who would have predicted that the past pandemic would be upon us and that virtual courts will be upon us? and yet, powered by technology- virtual courts are here to stay and gaining more ground and will gain even more ground as the overhaul of civil litigation rules continues across every state legal landscapes.

As time marches on, as technology evolves, more changes in the legal process will be upon us.

One area that looks like an area where advances in technology may make an entrance increasingly to effect fundamental changes in our legal ecosystem may well be in the area of lawyers and legal advice.

Currently, the status quo of the legal system is that the legal practice operates, amongst others, via face to face meetings with clients and representation in different forums, appearances in courts and tribunals and in all these situations, legal advice are given to clients and arguments made before Judges, Magistrates and other judicial officers.

Currently, the advances in artificial intelligence technology have enabled self driving cars to be made and driven by Elon Musk’s Tesla. The artificial intelligence technology also enables planes to take off, fly and land safely. It is also used in hospitals operations and surgeries.

Many artificial intelligence apps are now making decisions on behalf of their user and manages their finances for them.

Could it be that artificial intelligence may one day replace the above process of legal advices to clients?

Would legal practice and advice be handling differently by artificial intelligence ? Would a suitably developed artificial intelligent lawyer app – one day –
help to give legal advice to the users?

Obviously, such an app may help in straightforward small cases? May be even traffic matters and small uncontested matters?

There are advantages to this and there are disadvantages.

If such an app is developed, this can be accessed via a smart phone. The app would attract some charges for its use. Given nearly every person in the cities and rural areas, villages and communities in Nigeria has a smartphone – you can immediately see the great number of people who would be able to access this artificial intelligence lawyer app, this will truly bring the law to the masses plus legal advice can be made available to those who need it.

Obviously the artificial intelligence lawyer app should be made to conform to the current laws and legislation applicable to the state and to the federation.

It should not take the place of lawyers or seen to take the place of lawyers.

Such an app can then be configured to only refer the user to legal practitioners practicing in that area or locality where the app is unable to help or that the matter is too complicated or complex for the app to handle.

Any reader reading this and being motivated to actualise this idea has my permission to do so but please, I ask you to acknowledge me by making regular sizeable donations to charities, motherless baby homes, feeding the hungry helping pay hospital fees for those who cannot afford it, jobs for the unemployed and provide homes for the homeless as a way that we all can helping the less fortunate members of our society.

Now, back to our discussion. This Artificial Intelligence Lawyer App would help the users save costs as they may be charged less for legal advice.

This is probably because the artificial intelligence lawyer app only needs electricity, batteries. It does not need offices, office overheads, wages, salaries, holidays, paternity, maternity , staff costs and payments.

Another advantage is that the Artificial Intelligent app is that it is available and can be accessed 24/7. Therefore, no need to make appointments and can be used right away when the user has a legal problem that needs advice. Situations such as traffic or parking issues readily comes to mind.

But a disadvantage would be whether the artificial intelligence lawyer app would be able to read nuances, emotions and deeply analyse the facts of the case individual to the individual parties in the cases?

Another disadvantage is whether the artificial intelligence lawyer app be able to understand the local customs applying to the local area in which the parties were and where the subject of the dispute arose?

These issue could easily be resolved by making the Artificial intelligent lawyer app very geared to the needs and the laws in the respective states.

All in all, the above may be useful for a group of lawyers or legal practices who may come together and design this app and use it to improve their legal practice or complement their legal practice.

Will this happen? Maybe or may be not. But, hasn’t history proved to us that what was initially thought impossible and improbable, eventually come to pass, some examples that comes to mind are bank transfers and transfer alerts being done using mobile phones.