Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Law In The Nigeria Context By Issa Adeleke Bolarinwa

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Artificial intelligence according to dictionary Britannica is simply defined as the ability of a digital computer controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings, the term is frequently applied to projects of developing systems endowed with intellectual processes and characteristics of human.

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition decision making, ability to reason etc.

In considering the future of legal profession and law practice in Nigeria, any lawyer that fails to embrace change will be left behind and may not be able to compete as a 21st century lawyer.

Artificial intelligence has not yet taken control of humanity, but it has indeed taken control of many aspects of our lives even if we do not perceive it as such. We accept AI as a part of our lives. The simplest example is our Smartphone.


Artificial intelligence means the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. It is also a theory and development of computer system able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence.

In computer it is called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans.

Artificial intelligence is defined in a dictionary (The New international Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language, encyclopedia Edition) as the extension of human intelligence through the use of computers, as in times past physical power was extended through the use of mechanical tools.


Law is the only self regulated profession on earth. It has not changed much since the industrial revolution. It enjoys substantial immunity from outside challengers, particularly in comparison to other professions. Artificial intelligence is now in fact becoming a basis component of the legal profession. In some circumstances, this analytical – crunching technology is using algorithms and machine learning to do work that was previously done by the entry level lawyers.

It appears very likely that law through shielded by regulations and imbued in tradition might not be able to withstand the sweeping influence of the digital revolution for long. Traditionally and historically, only lawyers can legally engage in the practice of law. But things are beginning to change. In the landmark case of LOLA V SKADDEN (Arps, Slate, Meagher &Flom, No. 14 – 3845 (2d Cir. 2015); in this case the court held that “tasks that could otherwise be performed entirely by a machine cannot be said to engage in the practice of law” meaning that once some task can be entirely performed by a machine that task can no longer be considered to be ‘the practice of law’.

The essential question to ask is, will Artificial intelligence replace humans or lawyers in the world? No. However, the artificial intelligence is changing quickly the legal industry and practice of law in Nigeria on how lawyer’s practice will operate in the future because employment and application of AI is an indispensable aid in technology which every lawyer cannot ignore or be relevant to practice law successfully in the future.

Imagine that a ‘human lawyer’ can handle all the cases in the world after AI’s preliminary research. For a human lawyer it takes weeks to do research, but AI can do it in just a few seconds moreover it does not get tired or sleep in fact AI can produce more successful results than an average experienced lawyer.


Law firm and lawyers must participate in this new technology development, and notes that it is a very important technology that they must embrace. A modern law firm must be able to continue to meet the demands for generally accepted legal practice in the world and particularly Nigeria in the future. Embracing the reality of AI early and developing and using its tools will surely be a major competitive advantage in the future.

While “AI” remains a relatively unknown, and possibly even scary term to many lawyers and professionals in Nigeria, it is comforting to know that some Nigeria firms such as Aelex, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Infusion lawyers etc. have embrace the use AI to improve their legal services delivery.  We now have, also, companies dedicated to advancing legal technologies. Several AI had been developed to function in diverse aspects of the practice of law. COIN was developed in 2017 for commercial loan agreement, DOXLY for contract analysis, ROBO for review works amongst a myraids of others. In 2016, Nigeria’s foremost legal technologies company Law Pavilion launched Law Pavilion Prime the First Legal Analytics Software in Africa at the 56th Annual General Conference of the NBA In Port-Harcourt. The first of its kind in Africa, the AI gives in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of legal positions and authorities by generating a never before seen statistical analysis, historical data, precedential value ratings, conflicting judgments, locus classicus, statutory or literary authorities and opinions. And now, the company has unveiled TIMI, Nigeria’s first artificial intelligence legal assistant. Apart from assisting lawyers with legal research, litigation, and opinion drafting, TIMI also provides notes with legal authorities and gives a step-by-step guide on drafting and filing court processes. What impact would AI make on the lawyer’s mode of work?”

It will allow more accurate risk assessment on due diligence cases. It will also exposes the long term implications of short term decisions as it compares recent decisions with similar precedence. By doing so, it also helps to assess the risk of non-compliance with regulations. An example of this is the work of the AI named Kira made by Kira Systems which automatically extracts and summarizes any provision of virtually any contract and uncovers insights in them very fast. Another example of this are block-chain contracts which are contracts drawn up without the manual input of a lawyer. Sequel to this, human lawyers would be provided with ample time to deal with the legal realms of the law that require high level human intelligence. The practice of law is a field that, based on all indications of available technology, cannot be fully automated. There are several grey areas that require practical strategy, emotional intelligence, and consideration of public policies in dealing with them. These are things that cannot be coded into algorithms – they are not hard and fast. They are not a series of actions that can be fine-tuned into a set of instructions for AI to operate on. Thus, while AI speedily performs the routine part of the lawyer’s works, it allows the human lawyer to invest his intelligence on considerably more important things that actually determine the better lawyer and the winning of cases.

Furthermore, AI can be used to predict the outcome of cases based on precedence of similar cases. This is considered to be very useful to the Nigerian law practice as the legal profession thrives on winning cases for its clients, thus the case outcome prediction is a welcomed invention. Researchers at University College London, the University of Sheffield and the University of Pennsylvania have applied AI algorithms to 584 cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights and found patterns in the cases. Through the precedence learned from these cases, the AI was able to predict other cases with 79% accuracy. Another challenge which can be said to mar the existence and use of AI in the Nigerian legal profession is funding. The use of AI requires a lot of funds, which in a country like Nigeria can’t seem to afford. However, it is important to note that when law firms consider the profit they stand to gain from the use of AI in carrying out their practice, funding is an investment they are possibly to make.


The first and the most important thing is that lawyers need to stop seeing the rise of AI as a threat: instead, they should start to adapt. Adaptation in this case does not mean competing with AI which would be a futile effort but rather embracing its possibilities. As I said at the beginning of this piece, although we cannot stop the revolution that is coming, we can adjust timely and reposition ourselves. Lawyers and law firms should not wait for machines to take their jobs or their competitive edge. They should instead learn about how they can leverage AI, and see how they can turn a potential foe into a friend. Lawyers must adjust their perspectives. As AI allows tasks to become automated, lawyers must appreciate the encroachment and impact of AI on the legal profession and must strategically reposition themselves. Those who fail to do this may suffer. Brick-and-mortar lawyers who earn their fees from protracting cases and from low-level document review and drafting of common legal documents like Deeds and Wills tasks that AI can complete in seconds will watch their practice slowly die.


It is worthy of note that lawyers and attorney must accept and prepare for the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and explore the areas where the technology will greatly improve their services to clients rather than the fear and threat of Artificial Intelligence taking their hitherto protected legal services. AI has not come to replace the lawyers or to revolutionize the legal industry; instead, it is an implementation of tools to make the lawyer perform better. AI and legal tech cannot yet replicate the experience and creativity of a battle hardened legal practitioner and legal jobs that require the ability to connect and work with other people are currently insulated from the onslaught of AI.


By Issa Adeleke Bolarinwa Law Student Al – Hikmah University, Ilorin


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