Divorce lawyers take on the brave new world of artificial intelligence


A lawyer observing an AI program at work
(photo deposit)

Family law attorneys aren’t too concerned about replacing them with AI technology that can deliver on-demand divorce settlements — at least not yet.

According to Forbes Advisor The average cost of divorce in the United States is expected to reach $7,000 in 2023. The average cost of a divorce this year is expected to be between $15,000 and $20,000.

But for those who are looking for cheaper and simpler alternatives, there are AI websites like Wevorce.

Wevorce is offering couples a way to get an uncontested divorce in “less than 30 days” for the bargain price of $3,450. For couples with children, the site advertises a flat rate of $5,850. The program involves the couple filling out an online questionnaire regarding issues such as the division of assets and support, after which the site creates a separation agreement and, if necessary, a parenting plan.

A self-described “tech geek”, Rayford D Palmer has been keeping a close eye on developments on the AI ​​front.

Rayford d.  Palmer
Rayford d. Palmer

“Ultimately, this will be similar to TurboTax in the accounting industry,” predicts the Chicago family law attorney. “In the old days, someone who gets a W-2 would go to H&R Block. They don’t do that anymore. Unless they have very complicated tax situations, they do their own. The “turbine tax” for divorce is just around the corner. .

Says Timothy D. Bruegler, who co-chairs the family law division of the Boston Bar Association, sees how AI sites like Wevorce could be attractive to clients who want to avoid the expenses of attorneys and brokers.

Timothy D.  progler
Timothy D. progler

“People also like to be in control of the process,” says partner Merrick O’Connell. “I can see where something like this can help people feel like they’re really in control.”

However, Prowler finds that AI tools are of limited benefit to the consumer.

“It probably only helps in very immediate cases,” says Brawler. “Artificial intelligence is not yet at the stage where it can generate a very specific language for settling divorce cases with complex parental disputes or (involving parties) complex income structures.”

Says Jared D. Spinelli, a partner at Rubin & Rudman in Boston, says AI has become somewhat of a routine part of legal practice.

Jared D.  spinelli
Jared D. spinelli

“For many years, keyword searches for Lexis, Nexis and Westlaw have been driven by artificial intelligence,” Spinelli says. “But it’s not like what I think of on the road.”

Ballmer agrees, saying that the divorce practice as well as the entire legal profession are on the cusp of an AI “revolution”.

Palmer bases his expectations on the potential he sees Artificial intelligence products such as ChatGPT and the chatbot scripting platform, Jasper AI.

“The current limitations really depend on the data being fed into the model used,” says Palmer, managing contributor at STG Divorce Law and author of the Amazon bestseller. They lose their children, their money and their minds.”

In some fundamental ways, Spinelli warns, AI does not fit well into the context of family law.

“The probate and family court is the court of fairness and equity,” he says. “Necessarily, the word ‘property’ is imprecise. What is fair is subjective. My understanding of AI is that at the end of the day it is mathematical, it is formulaic, and it is black and white.

He also says it’s hard to imagine any computer program that can determine what’s in a child’s best interest in custody decisions.

“For the purposes of AI,[the best interests criterion]is subjective and circumstantial, and requires consideration of third-party influences and the child’s feelings, emotions, and development, which cannot be quantified,” Spinelli says.

According to Palmer, there are two limitations to current AI software that he expects to be largely resolved in a short time. The first is that the language model used is only updated until 2021.

More importantly, the legal tools currently available to AI do not always reflect the latest changes in legal code and case law, he says.

“For example, if you ask a tool now how child support is calculated in Illinois, sometimes it will give you the right answer, sometimes it will give you the wrong answer,” Palmer says. “Sometimes it will tell you that child support is based on the payer’s net income only, which is accurate as of July 2017 but is no longer true (due to a legislative change in the guidelines).”

But Palmer says the industry is in the process of implementing reforms that will solve these problems.

“These tools will be upgraded and complemented with AI engines, so they will become more powerful and more useful,” he says.

Changes are in the works that will allow law firms to improve their internal processes with AI tools, adds Palmer, who anticipates when the firm will be able to take all of its data, including abstracts and research, and feed it into the AI ​​engine system.

“Essentially, the living knowledge of that company is now going to be inside the AI ​​engine,” Palmer says. “You would be able to ask the AI ​​system to write a summary on a particular topic for a particular case, and it would take all that (hard) data into account.” A draft will come out which, although it may need some editing, will be very good. I don’t think that’s very far down the road.”



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