This essay aims to contribute robust grounds to question the Susskinds’ influential, consequentialist logic when it comes to the legitimacy criteria for wholesale automation in the legal profession. It does so by questioning their minimalist understanding of the professions. If it is our commitment to moral equality that is at stake every time lawyers (fail to) hail the specific vulnerability inherent in their professional relationship, the case for wholesale automation is turned on its head. One can no longer assume that, as a rule, wholesale automation is both legitimate and desirable, provided it improves the quality and accessibility of legal services (in an accountable and maximally transparent way). The assumption, instead, is firmly in favour of designing systems that better enable legal professionals to live up to their specific responsibility. The rest of the essay outlines key challenges in the design of such profession-specific, ‘ethics aware’ decision-support systems.
Delacroix, Sylvie, Computer Systems Fit for the Legal Profession? (April 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3158132