by Dr. Lance B. Eliot
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Abstract: The legal field generally has a significant distaste for “assembly line” characterizations about the practice of law and the pursuit of justice. The downtrodden viewpoint of assembly lines is that those kinds of archaic production processes are utterly unsuitable to the knowledge work undertaken by the legal profession. Despite those qualms, there is an argument to be made that law offices and the practice of law might eventually adopt assembly line principles, especially enabled via the addition of AI in the law.
Key briefing points about this article:
- Assembly lines are well-known as being key to efficient mass production
- Manufacturing extensively uses assembly lines, as do fast-food eateries
- Concerns have been raised about assembly line pitfalls in our justice system
- Some have floated the notion of assembly lines in law practices for legal endeavors
- AI in the law could very likely spur and enable such law practice transformations
They say that oil and water do not mix.
Perhaps the same could be said about the field of law and the overarching concept of assembly lines.
There has been much hand wringing over the years about the dangers of an assembly line approach to justice. Indeed, legal research has focused on the downsides of our judicial system devolving into a cookie-cutter form of adjudication, often referred to unkindly as McJustice (a sardonic take on the facet that fast food eateries employ assembly-line techniques, which analogously is predicted to sordidly overtake our courts and undercut the principles of justice).
As notably stated in a legal research article published in the St. Louis University Law Journal: “We’re seeing court systems that are run about like a fast-food restaurant. A fast-food restaurant may be a little better, because at least there…