figure 1. a typology of expressions.
(work of authorship)
(“live”; real time)
when no lawyer is involved.
Software applications lack common sense. They cannot hear what is
not being said. They do not detect nuance or emotion. On the other hand,
as with people, they can operate on
unspoken assumptions, create the illusion of expertise, and engender unwarranted trust.
Protecting the legal profession.
Lawyers are bound by many restrictions on
their behavior in exchange for licensing. Is it unfair or unwise to restrict
what non-lawyers can do in relation
to giving legal advice, counseling, and
representation? Part of the societal
bargain regarding any profession involves a limited monopoly.
By not allowing unqualified people
to advise citizens on their legal affairs,
and seeing to it that such advice occurs within appropriately structured
and protected relationships, we help
ensure the smooth functioning of the
legal system and the preservation of an
independent legal profession that is so
important to democracy.
The case for toleration. Those who
favor allowing automated legal-assistance systems generally claim they
yield net benefits for both society and
the legal profession.
Given the vast amount of textual
material already available to legal self-
helpers, much of uncertain quality and
with few clues as to currency and rele-
vance to specific situations, interactive
systems seem more likely to reduce
harm than cause it. Their development
requires significant time and money
few organizations would invest reck-
Even if a good case could be made for
regulating creation and distribution of
automated legal-assistance systems, do
o George Dyson’s Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins
of the Digital Universe1 tells the fascinating story of the early days of electronic computing at
Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and
elsewhere, including the (non-obstructive)
role of human “computers.”