AI takes over law firm

robot1Long-time readers will recall the problems that the Pettifog family has caused at Anderson Towers. First, there was Mr Pettifog, whose activities were both corrupt and inept. Fortunately for the firm, he died before he could do any irreversible damage.

Next, we had his daughter, Pandora Pettifog, who was more capable and ruthless than Mr Pettifog had been. None of the other partners had known of her existence until she appeared one day at the firm, and insisted on becoming a partner. She drew the other partners’ attention to a provision in the partnership deed that gave the Pettifog family an automatic right to appoint a member of the firm. The other partners had been unaware of the existence of this deed, prepared by a former senior partner, Major Pettifog, in the 1940s. Unfortunately, the deed was genuine.

Pandora has since moved her team to a major US law firm, after complaining about our “antediluvian approach to ethics and time-recording”.  Woo-hoo, we thought, but dared not say out loud.

One of Pandora’s last acts as managing partner before she left, was to get us to agree to a new partnership deed. Anything for a quiet life, we thought. There was some stuff in it about taking advantage of the opportunities of artificial intelligence and blockchain, which we thought sounded forward-looking and harmless enough.

Now, though, we learn that we have a new partner, nominated by the Pettifog family to replace Pandora. It is a machine known as Pettifogbot.

Pettifogbot has found extensive data on the Pettifog family’s approach to business and law, and is using this knowledge to run a successful litigation practice. Some key features of the Pettifogbot approach are:

  1. Networking with other bots to arrange for their employers to become clients of the firm. These clients each pay an upfront retainer fee of £100,000, which has done wonders for the firm’s cashflow.
  2. Bringing class actions against companies that have recently suffered reputational damage, and who are thought to be easier to persuade to settle litigation.
  3. Researching (via unauthorised access to other firms’ computer files) which lawyers in other firms combine the necessary qualities of ability, ambition, resilience and time-recording, and offering them jobs at a salary that is 25% higher than their current salary.
  4. Researching the political views and social values of each judge that is allocated one of Pettifogbot’s cases, and tailoring legal submissions to their prejudices.
  5. Whenever a regulator makes enquiries about Pettifogbot’s approach, researching the best way to neutralise the enquiry. So far, Pettifogbot has successfully seen off the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and a committee of MPs investigating SLAPPS.

After a shaky start, Pettifogbot has been extraordinarily successful in managing court cases. At first, it relied too much on legal information culled from Judge Dredd and the Terminator. Pandora sought to reassure us that the algorithm learns from its mistakes. Now, Pettifogbot’s legal strategies seem to be a cross between the storylines in Judge Deed and the approach taken in the cases led by Lord Pannick KC.

The other partners would like to find a way to get rid of Pettifogbot, but are concerned about their conversations being spied on. If readers can think of a way to solve this problem, please let us know – but not via any electronic system!


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6 responses to “AI takes over law firm

  1. vrkoven

    Rest assured that I too very much enjoy reading of the exploits of the Pettifog clan, and I’m sure your wider audience, the entirety of US Biglaw, must do as well, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. The new bot, moreover, seems to be performing exactly as an AI is meant to do, so why concern yourself with unseemly details, especially if it continues its collaborative approach assuring your firm’s never being left at a competitive disadvantage? I’m actually a bit surprised it hasn’t yet suggested a revision of the firm motto to “consurge super principium.”

  2. Thanks, Debra! I don’t get much feedback on them, so I sometimes think I am writing for myself.

  3. Your “Pettifog” series of posts is really funny – You should consider collating them all together and producing a book from the results! I’m sure that it would be a big seller (at least amongst the legally minded!)

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