AI Should Not Be Viewed As Threat But As Opportunity To Enhance Quality Of Legal Practice, Says Justice Hima Kohli

Artificial intelligence (AI) should not be viewed as a threat, but as an opportunity to enhance the quality of legal practice as technology has played a significant role in keeping the wheels of justice turning even during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Supreme Court judge Hima Kohli said on Saturday.

Justice Kohli, however, flagged ethical concerns about the “accountability, transparency and protection of rights of parties”, which may crop up with the use of AI in the legal field.

“As we embrace technology, it is imperative that we are aware of the ethical concerns that come with the use of artificial intelligence in courts. The use of AI raises concerns about accountability, transparency and protection of rights of parties. It will be critical to establish clear guidelines and protocols to ensure that justice is dispensed equitably to all parties,” the apex court judge said at a function organised by the ICICI bank here.

Speaking on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Sector”, Justice Kohli said the use of AI has been a “game-changer” in the legal field and has the potential to revolutionise the way lawyers work.

“The advent of artificial intelligence has caused some concerns amongst the legal fraternity. Lawyers may fear that their expertise and skills will be made redundant by technology. However, to my mind, AI should not be viewed as a threat, but as an opportunity to enhance the quality of legal practice for the following reasons…,” she said.

Firstly, AI has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency of legal practice by automating routine tasks, reducing the time required for legal research and providing real-time access to information, the judge pointed out.

This could create more time and space for lawyers to focus on complex and value-adding tasks, ultimately leading to better outcomes for clients, she said.

“Secondly, AI systems can analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns and relationships that may not be immediately obvious to humans. It leads to increased accuracy in decision-making and better outcomes for clients,” Justice Kohli said.

Thirdly, AI can be used to provide clients with instant access to information, personalised recommendations and virtual legal assistance. It improves the overall experience of clients and helps build long-term relationships, Justice Kohli said.

Finally, the integration of AI in the legal profession has the potential of creating new business opportunities, including the development of new legal-tech products and services, she added.

“In the coming years, the role of AI is bound to expand in shaping the legal world and bring about positive changes,” Justice Kohli said, adding, “It is undeniable that technology has played a significant role in keeping the wheels of justice turning during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

While stressing the need to use AI in the legal field, Justice Kohli, however, said the technology would lack human empathy, compassion and reasoning, which are essential for the dispensation of justice, and for these, judges would be needed.

“A judge comes on the bench with a vast and varied legal and personal experience, whose role goes beyond a bookish application of the law. She is equipped to weigh the facts of a case, understand human behaviour and apply the law to circumstances so as to arrive at a fair and just decision. AI, however advance as it may be, lacks human empathy, compassion and reasoning that are essential to dispensation of justice,” she said.

In an AI-powered Indian judiciary, the role of judges is likely to change and evolve, Justice Kohli said, adding that their fundamental role, however, in ensuring fairness, impartiality and protection of civil liberties will remain constant and unchanged.

“While AI has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency of the judicial system, it can never supplant a human judgment. Judges will continue playing a pivotal role in ensuring that the principles of justice are upheld and that the rights of litigants are protected,” she said.

The apex court judge said there are “no limits to growth because there are no limits to human intelligence and imagination” and after all, AI is the creation of the mankind.

“The bottom line is that AI can never replace the human values that are deeply ingrained in the constitutions of countries, in institutions of excellence in the academia and governments and the civil society. So let us embrace technology and AI, but with wisdom and a steadfast commitment to the rule of law,” she said.

The legal team of the ICICI bank has created “i-Amicus”, a knowledge-sharing platform for its consumers to deal with banking disputes.

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