LEGAL TECHNOLOGY The individual implementation of AI and the professional autonomy of lawyers

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This research examines the impact of the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) on the professional autonomy of lawyers. Lawyers pursue a special profession where they have a certain privilege based on power, knowledge and expertise that they acquire in a certain way. This is important in the performance of their work. A professional's work is often characterised by a high degree of expertise, decision-making power and self-control over their work. Since AI can take over more and more tasks and thus influence the profession of a lawyer, this study focuses on answering the question to what extent the implementation of AI influences the professional autonomy of a lawyer. In this research, several lawyers from different areas of law were interviewed that talked about their perception on this important theme. The data show that the question of how AI affects a lawyer's autonomy depends on several factors, such as how optimistic someone is about the technology or how much knowledge someone has about it; how well you can handle the technology; what the current state of development of the AI tool is; the type of lawyer, law firm or jurisdiction. The data show that current developments of legal AI are not yet so advanced. Lawyers view AI mainly from the perspective of support and that it is therefore also only for assistance, for example, to help in the preliminary work of a case. From that perspective, the lawyers answer the questions and indicate that with that in mind, it does not actually have to be such an infringement on a lawyer's professional autonomy. When it comes to the question of what AI could potentially be, the data does show that lawyers prefer AI to remain assistive only, because maintaining control over the work, for example, is an important aspect they want to preserve and they fear that more advanced technology could infringe on this.
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