South Carolina Law Review hosts symposium on artificial intelligence

The South Carolina Law Review's 2018 symposium, "Surviving the A.I. Surge: Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law" will be held on Friday, February 9 at the University of South Carolina School of Law. The symposium will focus on the implications A.I. has had--and will continue to have--on the legal industry, and how lawyers can adopt and even embrace A.I. in their practices.

“Every lawyer should be at this symposium. Every lawyer should be aware of this subject and should pay attention,” says South Carolina law professor Bryant Walker Smith, who is also an internationally recognized expert on the law of the newly possible. "Technology is as important as ethics for lawyers to understand. Understanding the opportunities and challenges that artificial intelligence will present for your clients, your practice, and the very profession will be essential to being a competent lawyer. In fact, in many ways this is an ethical obligation because failing to use the legal tools available to you -- or using them without thinking -- could be an abdication of your professional responsibility.”

When most of us think of A.I., it is usually as something to be feared (the HAL 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey”; “The Terminator”; and even “The Matrix” come immediately to mind). However, Smith explains that our lives are already touched daily by A.I.

“The most prominent examples in the public’s mind are ones that they might be able to interact with, but those are a ways off. Today, we are most often talking about a form of automation, advanced algorithm, or data-based deep learning that impact our lives in far more subtle ways.”

Those subtleties exist as a series of ones and zeros that play a role in everything from your Facebook “friend suggestions” to the operation of financial trading systems affecting your retirement savings.

In the legal sphere, A.I. services like IBM’s Watson and ROSS can sift through massive amounts of data and case law, and then draft their conclusions, freeing up a lawyer’s time to focus on other aspects of the case. And as these services become more available, it will also become more affordable, especially for those who traditionally haven’t had access to justice.

The potential for new ways to use A.I.—and cases involving A.I.—will grow exponentially in the near future. And that’s a big reason why the Law Review chose this topic, according to third-year student and symposium co-editor Anthony D’Elia.

“A.I. is relevant to all lawyers because we are both threatened by it, and also given the opportunity to grow from it in new and exciting ways,” says D’Elia. “But either way, if we don’t meet it head on, we’ll be left behind.”

The symposium has been approved for 4.5 hours of CLE credit, including 1 hour of ethics. Tickets range from $0-$35, and are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/surviving-the-ai-surge-artificial-intelligence-and-the-practice-of-law-tickets-40876624083

The symposium schedule can be found at http://sclawreview.org/symposium.