Family Law: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

The letters “Ai” appear with different colors near it including green, black and red.
As artificial intelligence continues to grow, law firms are continually looking at using it to help their practice area. / Photo by Jackson Sophat on Unsplash.

Artificial intelligence has continued to make waves across the legal industry including in family law.

Family law attorney Rich Harris, managing partner of The Harris Law Firm, held a webinar in June focused on how artificial intelligence can play a role in family law. 

“We’ve been using AI at some level for things like document management, legal billing, legal research all of those tools have some form of rudimentary AI,” Harris said. “We’re using that routinely. … But what is changing now is the machine learning part of it, where these are much, much more powerful tools.”

In reference to the above comment, Harris said he was talking about the databases the firm would use to research cases for example. The legal research tools Harris talked about have been around for a while. 

Harris noted they are not using anything at the firm right now “specifically” related to AI. He wouldn’t be surprised if the firm implemented something like that by the end of the year as they continue to search for better options that factor in things like client confidentiality. 

“We are going to likely use a number of these tools over time, but we’re going to start with using ones that are effective and safe,” Harris said. “We’re going to make sure all our folks are really well trained and they understand the tools.”

Harris has been trying out ChatGPT personally and not in a professional way associated with the law firm. 

Harris explained the firm is in the process of evaluating AI tools and having conversations to make sure they understand what they’d be dealing with and can use it in a way that protects their clients, while keeping honor in their profession.

“I anticipate what’s [going to] happen is we describe a legal problem in a legal resource tool and it helps us find possible additional solutions, other cases we hadn’t thought about [and] additional arguments we haven’t considered,” Harris said. 

Harris explained he doesn’t feel any of their lawyers would use AI tools without cross-checking them. Harris noted he believes AI could make his job easier.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities,” Harris noted. “I think there’s huge potential here and what I see is the AI helping us to … automate some of the simpler parts of the practice of law taking away some of the more administrative tasks.”

He said it could possibly handle simple court document drafting, simple preparation of court exhibits like charts they use for property division. He noted he could see family lawyers utilizing AI to prepare marital settlement scenarios.

“If we can effectively plug data into some of these tools … we are going to save clients’ money, we are going to free up lawyers’ time,” Harris said, adding it will better serve clients by allowing for more one-one-time, while also allowing attorneys more time to analyze complex problems and make arguments in court.

Harris added he believed AI could take away jobs in the legal field, explaining with any technological advance, you will end up automating some of the simpler tasks.

“We might over time streamline some of our administrative support,” Harris said. “But I think and hope that we create additional and better and more satisfying jobs on the other end for lawyers and paralegals.”

Harris noted he has talked to other family law firms about using AI and he said many of them appear to be on the cusp of using it, adding he wasn’t aware of any that had been implemented in a big way.

“I predict it’s going to be very, very useful for family law,” Harris said. “I can already see how it can really help.”

Harris added in family law, attorneys do a lot of one-on-one dealing with human emotions and AI wouldn’t be able to help with that as much.

The Harris Law Firm does webinars Wednesdays on family law topics that run the gamut. To find out more, click here.

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