Four Cambridge law students have developed an artificial intelligence program dubbed Case Cruncher Alpha, which can predict whether the Ombudsman will allow a claim with an accuracy rate of over 80%.


In a truly futuristic contest that took place last month, the Case Cruncher AI went up against 100 lawyers from several high-profile London firms. The challenge was to determine whether man or machine could predict the outcomes of cases with greater accuracy.


The computer won the contest, predicting 86.6% of cases accurately. The human lawyers, on the other hand, finished with an accuracy rate of just 66.3%.


The truly impressive thing about Case Cruncher isn’t just its prediction ability, but the fact that its developers don’t have a background in computer science. Case Cruncher began as a simple chatbot that could answer legal questions. It developed into its current incarnation under the guidance of Chief Executive Ludwig Bull, who taught himself about AI during law school.


As with many forms of artificial intelligence, Case Cruncher’s success has raised concerns about whether certain legal jobs are in jeopardy. Could this hail the end of paralegals and junior lawyers?


Felix Steffek, a Cambridge lecturer who helped oversee the competition, isn’t concerned. “Both sides could have achieved better or worse results under different conditions,” he said, adding that the results of both human and computer could have varied based on lawyer expertise and the stage of AI development.


Case Cruncher is still in its very early stages of development, and Steffek believes the real question is whether it will “remain limited to descriptive analysis or whether it will be capable of evaluating rules and events.” But it’s a real possibility that an AI like this will become a useful tool for junior lawyers and paralegals as time goes on.