“Artificial intelligence is a decision support tool, it does not decide for us”

Posters Parisiennes: What is the role of major legal publishers such as LexisNexis in improving access to and the quality of law in France?

Sebastien Bardou : LexisNexis combines doctrinal content with technology. As a publisher, we do not write court decisions, but we support all legal professionals in their profession, in particular with the analysis of comments on court decisions rendered.
Our content is exclusively intended for legal professionals with a certain level of expertise, but who need additional tools to work efficiently, with better legal certainty and in full knowledge of the law.

A.-P. : What role can artificial intelligence play in a legal process?

SB: We have been using artificial intelligence for a long time. Internally, first, to facilitate the creation of our products. We manage a fairly large volume of case law and court decisions. Artificial intelligence therefore allows us to prepare content, make it accessible, with keywords, etc. It also serves methods such as machine learninga supervised algorithm learning approach to information mining.

A.-P: And externally?

SB:Users benefit from a number of solutions. Artificial intelligence is used in particular in the automated drafting and analysis of contracts and legal documents. Quite quickly, the users of our solutions needed access to information, to – knowledge and it is interesting to use this artificial intelligence to give them the benefit of the most relevant content. Our company produces a lot of editorial content with many model contracts or clauses, which is a real strength.

A.-P: Have you always practiced in the legal field? When did you join LexisNexis?

SB:I joined LexisNexis in August 2014. I had worked in strategy consulting and media and telecom management. I did a lot of law during my studies and integrating LexisNexis interested me, through the rather exceptional position of the company on the markets. I started as Marketing Director France, evolving to occupy the position of Director of Strategy for France and the whole of the Europe and Middle East zone.

A.-P: Following the Estates General of Justice launched by the President of the Republic, digital technology is one of the solutions envisaged for more efficient justice. What role do you think technology plays in improving access to law?

SB:Basically, the role of technology is to help legal professionals work more efficiently: gain in productivity, time, litigation management… We know that there is a real problem of congestion and delays in treatment. Digital can fix that. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that technology is not everything. Artificial intelligence performs tasks in less than a second that the human brain takes much longer to manage. This benefit is indisputable. However, one should not ask this intelligence to do what it is incapable of realizing. The human must constantly control it, because each business has its specificities, its own characteristics. The number of factors to take into account is extremely high and it is human intelligence that manages all of this. Artificial intelligence is a decision-support tool and not a decision-making tool.

A.-P: What role can artificial intelligence play in a legal decision-making process? How to avoid the excesses of a totally dematerialized justice and the advent of robot-magistrates?

SB:There is a question of opportunity and a question of viability. Do we want to see artificial intelligence making decisions? I do not believe. Nothing allows us to say it in the future, even distant. In France, technologically, we don’t have that capacity. We are very far from what exists in the United States where all production is dematerialized. We are not in the same legal system. There is another aspect. Legally, a machine can never replace a human being because it is by nature irresponsible. Under these conditions, how can the machine be held liable if it makes a legal error? For us, the subject is to automate what humans do upstream, to increase productivity. We didn’t make our editors and authors disappear and replace them with artificial intelligence. We have strengthened them to allow them to work more efficiently.

A.-P: Since when has LexisNexis been interested in legaltechs? When and how did you take the digital turn?

SB:There are two ways to hear the term “legaltech”. The first is the technology that applies to the law, therefore, we are a legaltech. With the second way, it is more about start-ups that appeared a few years ago. As LexisNexis has been a technological player for a very long time, as we devote 20 million per year to innovation in France, the company is already a player in the ecosystem. We are working on projects with these start-ups. For example, LexisNexis acquired a company fifteen years ago to create what is now Lexis Solutions. LexisNexis Group is acquiring these start-ups to strengthen its portfolio and technology capabilities.

A.-P: In your opinion, do legaltechs represent progress for the judiciary or, on the contrary, the means of a cut-price justice?

SB: They can play a very virtuous role in the ecosystem. All these actors have a positive role to play. I don’t think that implies cheap justice. It is, on the contrary, an intelligent use of justice that we have noticed since the advent of legaltech. In predictive justice, for example, the subject is not so much whether a lawsuit will be won or lost, but rather how much the sentence may amount to. To say that a lawyer earns X% of his business does not make sense. The very binary side of statistics does not work and this illustrates the fact that legal decisions are not tools intended for the general public.

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“Artificial intelligence is a decision support tool, it does not decide for us”

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