Discussion paper
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This paper is the first from the Regulating Automated Legal Advice Technologies (RALAT) project supported by the University of Melbourne’s Networked Society Institute.

The project focuses on a cutting-edge development in legal technology: the automation of legal advice. It seeks to understand the practice settings in which Automated Legal Advice Tools (ALATs) are being adopted, issues regarding their effective management. It also explores the legal, regulatory, and ethical risks and consequences, and how these will shape access to delivery of legal services.

This initial paper sets out to provide the following:

• A working definition of ALATs;

• An overview of the current technology landscape;

• An overview of the Australian legal landscape;

• A description and evaluation of the current state of ALATs; and

• An overview of regulatory issues emerging from the use of ALATs.

Examples of current ALATs already in the market are set out in Appendix A.

The paper briefly places ALAT developments in the context of advances in technology, specifically the emergence in the 2010s of a vigorous and qualitatively distinct ‘fourth wave’ of intelligent automation research. This has arisen through significant investments in hardware platforms with large processing power, new applications, increased system interconnectivity and enhanced data harvesting.

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Networked Society Institute Discussion Paper 1, April 2018