Taylor Young 2015-06-16 01:52:08
Game Changer: The Future of Legal Writing My 13-year-old son, Connor, loves playing baseball for the Arcadia Bulldogs. He’s a pretty good catcher and has known some success at the plate. Here’s an excerpt from a story recapping his team’s game against the Strykers: The Arcadia Bulldogs 13u beat Strykers on Sunday 8-2 at BLD-Chase in seven innings... Strykers couldn’t get anything going so long as Ryan B was on the hill. Ryan B gave up just one hit, allowed no earned runs, walked three and struck out four during his five innings of work. The Arcadia Bulldogs stayed on top until the final out after taking the lead in the second, scoring three runs on an RBI double by Connor Y. Setting aside my justifiable pride in Connor’s performance, I have to admit that there was nothing particularly newsworthy about this game. (Or any other he’s played, for that matter.) Why would anybody take time out of their Sunday afternoon to write such a story? No one would. And no one did. The story detailing the Bulldogs’ victory over the Strykers was generated by a scorekeeping app called GameChanger. Within seconds of the game ending, a computer program had already generated the story, posted it to the GameChanger website, and emailed it to fans, i.e., team parents. At first blush, it’s not obvious that a computer program wrote the story. The app uses “natural language generation” technology to create a written narrative from scorekeeping data. While the writing is hardly perfect, it isn’t horrible. As an appellate lawyer, I’ve seen plenty of humans, including a fair number of judges and lawyers, do far worse. Reading how the Bulldogs “got one-run rallies in the third inning and the fourth” and then “pushed one more run across in the bottom of the fourth when Ben M stole home,” it’s not hard to imagine a natural language program generating a cohesive statement of facts or procedural history for a dispositive motion or appellate brief. With the digitization of virtually all legal research, it’s a short step from there to discrete legal argument sections and, eventually, complete motions and briefs. Legal writing has always relied upon assemblage. Large firms and legal departments in institutions and agencies have long relied upon their own brief banks. Electronic legal research has created an almost limitless brief bank for lawyers. Legal writers today seem to be borrowing more heavily than ever before. Large swaths of legal argument are copied and pasted verbatim (and without attribution) across numerous appellate briefs and memorandum decisions. Can it be long before sophisticated technology will be able to analyze these sources, identify key argument sections, and assemble them into convincing draft briefs? If this article had been written by a narrative technology program, this would probably be the section where the appellate lawyer argues that his unique human insight and original authorship cannot be duplicated by technology. The narrative calls for triumph of the human individual creativity over artificial intelligence. But I’m not convinced the classic narrative is right. The technology trajectory suggests that logical legal reasoning by artificial intelligence is close, if not already here. Well-written computer drafted briefs can’t be too far behind. Nonetheless, these programs still have a long way to go. While writing this article, I came across the following blog entry. Blogging Basal: Leash Mistakes That Can Language the End of Your Journal Who would somebody think it? Blogging, started out in 1994 as erotic musings by a container of net users who advised them aught many than online diaries. Not anymore. Blogging is not only threadbare but it can also be a key factor in online playacting success. Why has it embellish such a phenomenon? No dubiety lave plays a pupil portrayal. Blogs are light to set up and use. Also unlike conventional website antiquity, blogs demand no specialized skillfulness which capital no fooling around with HTML inscribe and the equivalent. I think that post is about blogging, but I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s about baseball. One thing is certain, it wasn’t written by a human being. And, although the program that wrote that post is clearly inferior to the one used by the GameChanger app, it gives me some small comfort that the robots won’t be putting me out of a job in the near future. I could use the rest, but I think I’m okay with that. Taylor C. Young is an AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated appellate lawyer and co-founder of Mandel Young, a Phoenix-based appellate boutique. His firm’s mission is to level the litigation playing field by providing smallto- mid size law firms, in-house legal departments, and others ready access to top-notch appellate counsel when they need it most. Taylor handles appeals in a wide range of substantive areas, including complex commercial disputes, torts, and family law. He regularly teaches, speaks, and writes on appellate topics. topics. His musings can be found on the firm’s appellate blog - www.myappellate.com and at www.mandelyoung.com.
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