Chatbots. Will they make a difference to Law Firms?

 Yes. Here’s why we think so.

There is a current big wave of progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that Chatbots are riding on. IBM with Watson, Apple with Siri, Microsoft with Luis and Amazon with Echo are all putting considerable resources into the technologies that make a Chatbot process what is typed or spoken to it, process the information to understand the context and intent, and to provide useful information in return (if well setup).

Chatbots can work well in law as areas of law have some constraints, so if the Chatbot is programmed to understand say Property Law or Probate, the questions asked and the information to be returned will often be quite closely bounded. And if the question is arcane or esoteric then the Chatbot can simply say its beyond its pay grade and ask for contact details for a knowledgeable attorney to follow up and assist.

That simple example of what a Chatbot may not be able to do helps to show their value. They can take in information relevant to an individual and return personalised information back, or escalate the question. The prospective client is thereby engaged, informed and maybe even entertained. Which is not something that happens with static web page information or FAQs.

No one should pretend the Chatbot is a real person, but the dialogue exchange is a very human style interaction. And it is one of the most fundamental aspects of what it is to be human and connected to others.

Chatbots of course can scale, handling many conversations simultaneously in a way that a (far more expensive) staff member cant. And they’re there 24/7 and never tire. As ever, we dont think they will, nor want them to, replace members of staff. But Chatbots can certainly take some of the robotic out of the lawyer’s workload.

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