SC eyes wider role for artificial intelligence in legal research

By Benjamin Pulta

February 17, 2023, 4:43 pm

MANILA – Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has bared that the future of legal research in the country will incorporate advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) among other technological innovations.

Speaking before a convention of legal researchers in Zamboanga City, Gesmundo on Wednesday said the Supreme Court’s blueprint for judicial reform, the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 or the SPJI, can significantly improve the productivity of the courts, including work traditionally done by court legal researchers.

“The SPJI will, among others, allow us to ride this wave of technological advancement, capitalizing on artificial intelligence (AI) not just for court operations, but also for legal research. This, in turn, will facilitate the speedy disposition of cases,” said Gesmundo.

The magistrate noted the growing use of AI in other parts of the world for more efficient transcription and as an aid for researchers.

“As the SPJI notes, in other jurisdictions, AI-powered applications are already being used in two particular areas of law and the administration of justice, which could clearly benefit the Philippine judiciary as well -- AI-enabled transcription to support court stenography, and AI-powered tools to aid legal researchers,” he said.

“Court legal research is so often like looking for a needle in haystacks upon haystacks -- and AI could be the magnet that makes that search faster and easier, to the benefit of the people that we ultimately serve,” he added.

Through artificial intelligence, “the SPJI will enable faster and easier access to legal references. It will usher in the redevelopment of the Judiciary E- Library, which will include AI-enabled tech to improve its legal research capabilities,” he said.

The chief justice added that through natural language processing -- the same technology behind ChatGPT, "we will install a search engine that will provide more accurate and reliable results; using machine learning, search algorithms will constantly self-improve based on the feedback of users. AI-enabled tech will also generate analysis based on words and phrases, including their context, from previous cases or legal precedents, and predict and suggest possible outcomes for new cases.”

Gesmundo urged court workers to welcome the innovations. “Today I call on you to fully embrace technology in this undertaking and in the performance of your duties. Harness it to work more efficiently and expeditiously and invest in the skills and resources needed to enable the shift that we envision. Be active agents of reform, bearing in mind that these innovations are meant not to supplant us, but to support us, and, in turn, those who rely on us and our work,” he said. (PNA)