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A reply to top lawyer David Greene, from the Cambridge students he called ‘arrogant’

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Techy students defend their lawbot

Ludwig Bull

Last week, the Cambridge law students behind lawbot service Elexirr were called “arrogant” by top solicitor David Greene. Speaking to Legal Cheek, Edwin Coe partner Greene stressed that law is “a people to people business”, and that case-predicting computers like Elexirr lack fundamental, human-like qualities. Now, we hear a response to Greene from Ludwig Bull, managing director of Elexirr.

First, an admission: the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the legal profession is generally overestimated. This hype is often damaging to valuable innovation.

Second, a confession: English law is one of the most complex and fascinating subjects we have found. Whatever the Elexirr team can do to better understand the law and contribute to its well-being makes us happy. Our core concern is to understand the law as it is, not make it something else.

Third, and more importantly, some specifications.

Being a lawyer is a very complex job composed of many different tasks. We believe that the better way to approach the impact of AI on the legal profession is to take a piecemeal approach. Some highly patterned work may be easily automated (think of software scanning thousands of documents for inconsistencies in minutes at little cost rather than an associate in months for £££.)

Some highly intuitive work may not be automated in the near future, or ever (as much as we love our bot, Elexis, we would prefer a human being to negotiate on our behalf.)

Another category of the interaction between AI and the law (and the one we are most interested in) is where computers help us understand something we thought we already knew. Is it possible to scientifically predict the outcome of a case? Lawyers have different opinions about what the outcome of a particular case should be. Lawyers even have different opinions about whether there is an exact answer to the outcome of a case. We think there is an objective dimension to legal knowledge and that our AI can prove it.

Fourth, and most importantly, a vision: we think that data science helps us show that there is an objective dimension to legal knowledge because it allows us to represent legal information in a non-conceptual way.

Instead of reading a document about the law and using our understanding of language to figure out which concepts the different words represent and how they interact, we feed the document to our algorithm to show us a mathematical representation of the information. We then use that mathematical representation to find patterns and gain insights invisible to a linguistic approach (have you ever tried engineering your own data structure for thousands of Dutch insurance claims to understand whether the emotional state of the claimant affects the outcome? We think not…) Our products are not only a useful tool for consumers and corporations — we think they also shed light on law’s nature.

Fifth, a conclusion: machines will not replace lawyers and Elexirr isn’t trying to change that. Machines can help lawyers understand the law and maybe even make it clearer and more just. Elexirr is a small company trying to take giant leaps. We would be grateful for the support of Mr Greene and other senior members of the legal profession who enjoy our sincere respect. We would also like to extend an invitation to Mr Greene to challenge our system during the competition. Ultimately however, what makes us happiest is to understand and solve law.

Ludwig Bull is a law student at the University of Cambridge and the managing director of Elexirr.

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61 Comments

Anonymous

They sort of proved the lawyers point there, did they not?

(36)(4)

Anonymous

No, they pointed out that the position he was attacking them for (calling them “arrogant” for holding it) was not their position at all. That they respond with respect rather than ad hominem comments (like Mr Greene’s) is a bonus.

(23)(16)

Anonymous

This is wet – gets a bit of criticism and backtracks on everything they stand for.. oooh sorry Mr. Greene… Love me, love me… Pathetic.

(31)(1)

Anonymous

Brent

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Too fucking true. Afraid he won’t be getting a TC now the poor chap

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Not a big lawbot/elexirr fan but thought this was well argued actually

(7)(6)

Anonymous

Mate, I am sorry but you know absolutely nothing about what being a ‘lawyer’ entitles. Perhaps get a TC first, get through it and then you may be able to speak with some authority, when you actually have the benefit of making informed views and opinions. A lot of big standard waffle will just not make the cut here. You may be able to talk your way around the BD / HR people but not the associates and partners.

Good self marketing though. If there’s one thing you know it’s how to create a buzz around you. Well done. Now back to reality.

(23)(7)

Anonymous

Apologies for typos. That said, this guy does not even warrant me proofreading my comment about his arrogance, prior to submitting.

(2)(6)

Anonymous

Why? What did he say specifically that was so uninformed in your view?

(3)(2)

Anonymous

He is a law student, he has some funding for a gig which he has set up with hard work and he has some publicity from press who must find three or four legal stories every week day. It seems to me that he is the director of not very much. But you do not need very much to make a million or two. You do, however, need a product that people will buy. We shall wait to see if that is what he has 🙂

(5)(3)

Rupert

Amen.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

And what have you done recently?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

This is a good riposte. However, my dream is of new age communism, not of getting rich quick via my computer programme which will replace human beings in the economy. New age communism is a work of art…a beautiful synthesis of politics and religion through the medium of modern day social and economic infrastructure. Artificial intelligence is dull in comparison to new age communism. 🙂

(2)(8)

McCarthy

Screw you, commy asshole!

(5)(1)

Corbyn

Suck my choad, fascist.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

New age communism? Never heard of it. Care to give an example of how it would work?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

It is the New Age. It has never been tried before. You take Gandhi’s lesson of blending religion with politics (rather than with the worship of a God) and start from there. The New Age is essentially an era where humanity as individuals and as a race live out the best psychology a human being is capable of, rather than the worst. Communism is used as a draft moniker on the basis that current political and economic institutions (e.g. plcs and limited companies and governments with a built in ministry of defence) entomb what is the worst about human psychology. (E.g. profit at your neighbours expense, gear your neighbour’s personal development to economic need, live out of harmony with nature, so the seeds of crime and violence and so on). This is a full time calling, in contrast to AI, which can be run as a hobby and which will, incidentally, be Old Age: profit at your neighbour’s expense.
New Age communism is virgin snow. John Lennon’s Imagine would be one of its anthems x

(1)(5)

Anonymous

And how about an example of how it works then? People having jobs, for example. How do they get the job, how are earnings decided, where do those earnings go, and how are they taxed, for example?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Money entombs what is the worst about human psychology, so it does not make it to the New Age.
Think of a job that will need doing and I will tell you how it will get done and how the remuneration would work.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

OK, I’ll give you two. 1) neurosurgeon and 2) the CEO who runs the company she started as an entrepreneur which creates the laser technology used by neurosurgeons.

Anonymous

1) a)Currently this has an educational requirement to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Surgery or equivalent and this takes 7 years or so, minimum, to attain. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that you can find no one so qualified who is enthusiastic about practicing the psychology of humanity at its highest and, to boot, they would be obstructive in allowing new age values to compete with their own medical practice.

b) it is concerned with the diagnosis , surgical treatment and rehabilitation of nervous system disorders

I would expect much of the throughput of patients to come from road traffic accidents, work place injuries and sports injuries.
The detail of the work is fine handling of precise manual or laser guided machinery.
If patients consented to their symptoms being disclosed to film, and their treatment being filmed, then youtube would make the job of neurosurgeon much more accessible. It would mimic the shadowing that would be surgeons currently do, before they begin to practice. While surgeons themselves may not embrace new age values, chances are that one or more of their patients would, and this accessibility could be organized easily through the patients. Other people could be trusted by the patients to perform the operations. It will not be as hard as you seem to think. There will be pressure on new performers , but there will be an enthusiasm for the new age to succeed, and that will ease the pressure. There is also pressure in the Old Age for new performers when they qualify into this field.

b) Neurosurgery is now being performed with the existence of lasers. A person who has developed expertise with fine machinery, lasers and computing has invented a laser technology and continues to do so through a company. She wishes to be obstructive to New Age values, for the sake of argument, and wishes to keep everything she has learned from humanity and machinery for her own gain.
It is possible that such obstructiveness may hold laser surgery back in the New Age. However, it is likely that but for intellectual property rights, the machine manufacturer, other neurosurgeons and other technically minded people, when exposed to the social need of nervous disorders, would be able to replicate or improve this technology and progress would continue. It is hard to imagine, for example, an innovator in Formula 1 or military software being stumped by neurosurgery.
To be the chief executive, she must have some idea of accounting, marketing, litigation, regulatory compliance and so on. But the knowledge she has in such a narrow field could quickly be picked up by others. Any lawyers or accountants who are keen on the new age would be able to pick those points up and carry them, so far as they were relevant. If she has children, as is currently the custom in some parts, they are able to pick up the reins in time. But any child so trained could.
Remuneration: both jobs are currently renumerated on a middle class basis and this is why, I expect , that you think it is a challenge for me. But the broadening out would mean that the expertise could easily by garnered by someone who does not have middle class values. A pleasant lifestyle for both jobs would easily be facilitated without causing hostility. If 1) or 2) currently have decadent lifestyles, where outside of work they embrace the race to the bottom, then the improvement of the new age would be quick to show itself, even with the most difficult example you could think of x

Anonymous

I’m replying here as your New Age answer about youtube being used for neurosurgery didn’t have a reply button.

So, back to your reply further down. I’d like you to explain *precisely* how a neurosurgeon and the CEO would end up doing what they do (training, funding, recruitment etc), how they will be paid, where would their earnings go, and how they would be taxed. Please answer these questions, try to keep your reply brief and to the point, your last post was very difficult to read. I’m sure you are keen to convey the practical details of how your proposed New Age communism would work.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I disagree that my last post was difficult to read, I think you are pretending it was.
I have answered. To emphasise, 1) and 2) would be afforded a comfortable lifestyle.
On a wider point a lot of what taxation is aimed at, and money itself, is based on ideas that were traditionally Old Age – everything bad about human psychology – and they would not be part of a New Age society.
A neurosurgeon is not dissimilar in skill, compared to her peers, as the very best footballer is today. While footballers today break many records with their nutrition and technically advanced boots and ball to assist, some records from footballers who lived humbly still remain. Stanley Matthews, oldest England player, Dixie Dean, highest number of goals in a season, were both playing in the 1930s.
Neurosurgery, like football, is something where remuneration does not matter to everyone. It may matter to the woman in your example, but as I have explained, even if she were obstructive, she could be circumvented.
If you are as open minded about new age communism as you proffer, then play Imagine on youtube. That will be the anthem, as I said, and it is easy to understand, even if you disagree with it, or even if you are more minded to spend time introducing AI into the Legal world, than to introduce the New Age into society.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

I’ll give you one final opportunity. If you do not directly answer the questions, we shall deduce you are unable to and be forced to disregard 100% of what you say.

Here we go. I’d like you to explain *precisely*:

a) how a neurosurgeon and the CEO would end up doing what they do (training, funding, recruitment etc)
b) how they will be paid
c) where would their earnings go,
d) how they would be taxed

Anonymous

Thanks for the opportunity. I am busy. I have done enough. You probably thought I would be stumped by your original question and you are just posturing. You are interested in AI as a get rich quick scheme, and we are far apart, therefore. Give your youth and soul to machinery, and deprive some people who are tied to an out of date livelihood of their means of existence so that you may follow your elder family and Alumni and drive a Tesla in the 2020s and live with your own private swimming pool in due course, if that is what you want to do. I shall endeavor to give you the chance to vote your way out of such a life when I get chance, because I think New Age communism is a thing worthy of praise.

I don’t think that you are so dim witted, or that your education is so narrow that even if my answers have been deficient, you cannot see , with a bit of effort, how to answer your own questions yourself.

Anonymous

I see. So you ask us here to “Think of a job that will need doing and I will tell you how it will get done and how the remuneration would work.”

I give you two jobs and ask how it will get done and how remuneration will work. And you are unable to tell us.

I sincerely hope you are not training in the law. I also sincerely hope you are getting the assistance you need.

Anonymous

I acknowledge your bogus show of sincerity. Here is a challenge for you which is comparable to a step in litigation, where you can show the gulf between your legal class, and mine.

Of the paragraphs below, in relation to the Chief Executive and Remuneration portions of your question – particularise (i) what you do not understand, and (ii) what you find difficult to read and (iii) which bits point to mental illness on my part:

“To be the chief executive, she must have some idea of accounting, marketing, litigation, regulatory compliance and so on. But the knowledge she has in such a narrow field could quickly be picked up by others. Any lawyers or accountants who are keen on the new age would be able to pick those points up and carry them, so far as they were relevant. If she has children, as is currently the custom in some parts, they are able to pick up the reins in time. But any child so trained could.

Remuneration: both jobs are currently renumerated on a middle class basis and this is why, I expect , that you think it is a challenge for me. But the broadening out would mean that the expertise could easily by garnered by someone who does not have middle class values. A pleasant lifestyle for both jobs would easily be facilitated without causing hostility.”

Magic Circle Partner taking a break while my trainee does the real work

First, an inference which can be made from Ludwig’s writing style is there’s not much hope for his product. It pains me to read so many brackets. A piece of advice: those sentences can be re-written to make your argument more persuasive.

Second, look this guy up. He seems like a joker.

Finally, I agree with the previous comments which suggest that he get some experience as a solicitor before he makes an invention to solve law firms problems. His opinions and rationale may be correct but there is no way he can substantiate any of them with no experience.

(5)(5)

Anonymous

Looked him up. Standard, arrogant third culture kid. Nothing to see there folks.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Very arrogant, yet not even cool.

I’m a cool person. People at work and outside of work like me. I’m not like Ludwig.

(5)(1)

Doubtful of your credentials

You could have used a semi-colon in your second paragraph.

(12)(0)

Ludsquidge

Shove it up your colon!

(2)(0)

Jones Day Trainee

You sound like my supervisor.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

A semi colon would have been more correct on second reading.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Drifted off reading it.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Hai Ludwig,

How are you doing on your (certain to be successful attempt) to secure £5 million for a startup which doesn’t make any money?

You are such a humble person, most people would be asking for £100 million for such a totally not crap idea which was definitely not created by an overweight toddler with a bad dress sense.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Surprised by the amount of personal abuse here, even for LC. His writing comes across as slightly overconfident/arrogan, but that might be because he’s European (I assume) and his first language may be more direct. This is common with Germans/the Dutch. Nothing wrong with it.

Legal experience may be advisable, but it is not essential. If his product can deliver then it really doesn’t matter.

Can’t see this being the future though. Is it really that often that a partner decides the % chance of winning a case and gets it totally wrong? Half the time the client goes ahead/against litigation in spite of their lawyer’ advice. Only if this can be much more accurate than humans will it succeed, which I don’t think it likely. AI (or technology, rather, as this isn’t really AI – they aren’t conscious machines) will have a bigger impact on doc review.

(4)(4)

Ludsquidge

Dear Mr Greene,

Boohoo! Whinge whinge whinge!

Gonna tell my Mummy off you!

*Spits dummy out*

*Makes self sick*

*Poos pants on purpose*

Razzzzzzz! You are a nasty man!

(5)(5)

Anonymous

I mean… that’s not what happened is it

(5)(3)

Ludsquidge's "Special Friend"

Yes it was.

I had to hose him down!

(0)(1)

Anonymous

God, this place really is a cesspit. Are these commenters students with a personal animosity towards those involved in this project? If so, go kick a ball outside, it’s the holidays.

I can’t understand why any lawyer would be against research and development in legal technologies. I think the Cambridge project sounds interesting. It’s possible to think that technology may have a part to play in law in ways we can’t yet anticipate without thinking that your next head of chambers is going to be a robot.

(5)(6)

Anonymous

“Fourth, and most importantly, a vision: we think that data science helps us show that there is an objective dimension to legal knowledge because it allows us to represent legal information in a non-conceptual way.”

I think this is the key point. Litigation funding is big business so I think big data in law is likely to be valuable. What impact it can or should on the profession is a tough question that lawyers are going to have to face up to in coming years.

(0)(0)

The Cesspit Bogmonster

Snowflake.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

The “Cambridge” project. LOL, you vapid moron. It is a mediocre Cambridge student with the IQ of a collection of mouldy peas valuing a stupid business which makes no money at millions of pounds. It has nothing to do with Cambridge University.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Seriously, are you ok? Yeah, I get that it is not a team with Cambridge funding. Why are you so angry about a student side project? Maybe it’ll do well, maybe it won’t — does it really matter? It’s an area that’s certainly in need of work and these guys won’t be the only one undertaking it. But if you’re not interested in it then just relax and think about something else. Why get so upset?

(4)(2)

Anonymous

You mislabelled it and are attacking those condemning an absolutely laughable nonsense joke business which is run by an arrogant tit. Freedom of speech. No one is angry (though I suspect you actually might be); like others, I type what I think and I think you are a vapid moron. Hopey helpey.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

I am not saying this to be horrible, but you really sound like you need help. Most people read an article like this and think “huh, there ya go”, and move on, whether or not they think it sounds like a good idea. You have been spending the entire day posting various bizarre personal attacks on the author. You sound consumed with jealousy just because he has started a business that has barely got off the ground. You need to ask yourself why that is.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

I posted twice…this is my third. My day has been spent at work and with friends. HTH.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Don’t believe that you’re not responsible for some of these other troll comments. Or that you’ve spent the working and ‘with friends’. Its 10 to 7 – what time do you and your friends get out of work? You’re clearly some student who knows the author personally and hates him for some reason.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Had a lunchbreak, moron features.

Anonymous

Hear hear. They’re scared.

(2)(0)

Doc. Ludvig Friedrich Von Lowenstein

I didn’t say anything

(1)(0)

Latvka Da blitz

The article Doc.

(1)(0)

Topsy Turvy Spinning Elixir of Life Solicitor

Hey peace n harmony man

(1)(1)

Doc. Heinrich Litevsky.

OK Ludsquidge. Poos pants on purpose. Oppositional Defiance Disorder of LC Compulsive Anal Retention Syndrome.
Well spotted nurse.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Lets retain each other?

(0)(0)

Carrie Jackson

Oxford University is better than Cambridge that’s why I went there. Better trains back to London too

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The only arrogant snowflakes I see on this thread are those criticising. “Boo-hoo, I may have to innovate to be a successful lawyer in the future. Wah, data-science and technological advancement scare me.”
Get a grip. The future of many vocations and academic disciplines are being driven by scientific methods. There is no implication that robots will take the place of lawyers – although I can tell that’s what many here are scared of – but the suggestion is that technology can further augment existing practices. The fact that people want to shout that down just further proves the perception of the legal profession as populated by arrogant dinosaurs.

(5)(0)

TFG

All of these posts above you = the same person. Maybe Trumpage, maybe not – certainly one of his friends.

Whoever he is, he is a student with a hair up his aris and a warped sense of humour – what you/I might call “un bellende”..

(1)(2)

Anonymous

I’d take Josh Browder over Ludwig any day of the week

(0)(0)

Prof. Quirrell

TROOOOOOLL IN THE DUNGEON!!!

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.