A robot junior clerk is currently being built in order to do the work of a traditional barristers’ clerk and also to provide basic legal information to users online.
The robot is called “Billy Bot” and is named after the clerk in the TV series, Silk. The robot is being built by a counsel’s chambers with the aim of pointing users to free online legal resources. The robot is to help members of the public decide whether they need legal help and then, if they do, find them a solicitor or direct access barrister. In the future it is also intended that “Billy” will make appointments and deal with all the tasks a human clerk would carry out.
It has been stated that “Billy” will be on various public facing websites with a role limited to pointing users towards free legal information, making bookings for impending hearings and finding an available barrister. “Billy” is also being programmed to quote fees before proceeding with finding an available barrister or making any bookings. Also it has been reported that “Billy” will be able to assist lawyers with selecting the right counsel and if it could not answer a question then it would be referred to a senior clerk.
After monitoring the initial role carried out, the developers of “Billy” plan that the next stage of development will see it move into AI territory, as it becomes more sophisticated in dealing with users, learning from their questions, and triaging their legal needs. It is hoped that it will act like a real junior clerk but will not venture into providing actual legal advice.
It will be interesting to see if other counsel’s chambers and solicitors cotton on to developing and using this form of technology to provide day to day admin assistance and support to their businesses.