Would you let a chat bot write your will?

A lawyer-free firm in Australia is using artificial intelligence to create certified wills - and hundreds are jumping on board with the new technology.


Artificial intelligence has come to the Northern Territory town of Coolalinga. Photo: Getty Source: Getty

Powered by a system called , users in the Northern Territory town of Coolalinga can have in as little as 15 minutes, for as little as $150 - saving them hefty lawyer fees.

Much like a conversation, the program operates through a screen where both user and Ailira can ask the other questions.

“Often people will buy a legal will kit, they’ll read through, get to a question which they don’t know the answer to and stop,” said creator and taxation lawyer Adrian Cartland.

“The advantage of Ailira over a legal will kit is that she can answer those questions that stop people from filling out that form.”

Asking legal information from Ailira comes free, and it can be accessed online. The fee paid is only for the will itself. 

People in the Northern Territory town of Coolalinga can use Ailira to create a will, and avoid hefty lawyer fees. Photo: Ailira Source: Supplied

Without the steep price that may come with seeing a lawyer, Cartland believes the system allows for a greater access to justice for rural and low-socio economic areas.

It is estimated that at least 45 per cent of Australians

“Lawyers are increasing their hours because they aren’t making money out of them because these are simple affairs," Cartland said.

“The market we are servicing is totally new clientele - they wouldn’t get a will otherwise.”

Whit Lee, the executive director of strategy for APAC at Lexis Nexis, believes the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) won’t leave lawyers without a job, rather it will make them better at dealing with the complex issues.

“Artificial intelligence is just about improving efficiency and automating basic tasks to increase productivity,” Lee said.

“Legal professionals can spend less time on the mundane tasks and instead strategise new approaches to cases.”

What if my case is not so simple?

According to Cartland, the key to developing a successful artificial intelligence program is working out its limitations.

“There are certain things humans will always be better at like empathy, creativity, lateral thinking, contextual reasoning, morality and advocacy,” he said.

“With Ailira I am clear that if you want or need something more than information, I tell them it is not appropriate for artificial intelligence.”

"... It [Aliria] works as triage and gets the human to work through the harder areas.”
If users answer yes to any contentious questions early on, Ailira will stop the process and pass the individual on to a lawyer.

“The advantage is they get a cheaper will because they have done some background. It works as triage and gets the human to work through the harder areas,” Cartland said.

When does the information given become advice?

As more data is fed through an AI program, the system improves as it has a better understanding of the outcome expected.

Terri Mottershead, the director of the Centre for Legal Innovation at the College of Law, thinks all AI programs – while advantageous - come with concerns.

“A chatbot at the moment can’t give legal advice it is not allowed to… what it does give is information,” she said.

She believes as more data is fed into AI systems, it is possible the line between information and advice will be blurred.

“That is where attention is being paid ... Do we regulate it? Do we attach the same sort of liability for that simple advice as a person?”

What next?

Adrian plans to expand the number of physical sites where Ailira can be found, but will keep to low-socio economic and rural areas.

Ailiria is also being developed to assist domestic violence victims by generating risk assessments and documents such as intervention orders.

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4 min read
Published 26 April 2018 at 11:00am
By Michelle Elias
Source: SBS