The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, has speculated in a speech to lawyers in Wales that artificial intelligence (AI) will soon become better than QCs at predicting the outcome of cases.
Speaking at Legal Wales: Shaping The Future, Lord Thomas said: “The most important point [is] … if Wales is to participate in a legal services industry on a global scale or at least to be joined with London in doing that, is lawyers have to confront the fact that legal services will be organised and delivered very differently.
“For example it is probably correct to say that as soon as we have better statistical information, artificial intelligence using that statistical information will be better at predicting the outcome of cases than the most learned Queen’s Counsel.”
He urged lawyers in Wales to prepare for the task of adapting to new technology in the “highly competitive industry” of law.
Lord Thomas also used his speech to warn of “other changes” looming in the provision of legal services.
He said: “It may be the case that the procurement of legal services will no longer be through the traditional large firm model but by the decomposition of work and the re-sourcing of it.
“I think there is absolutely no doubt the progress we have seen in the medical profession, the use of a larger number of well qualified nurses and paramedics reinforced by technology and easy access, will be something that will happen to the legal profession.
“What must therefore happen in Wales is that we must actually seize the opportunity that is here now.”
Lord Thomas ended his speech with a call for the creation of a “high level body to think these through and actually analyse what is in Wales’s fundamental economic interests, protecting not only and the civil liberties of the people of Wales, but ensuring their prosperity”.