Lawyers are trained to recognize and diagnose legal problems. They are experts in their domain. We can take their expertise and put it into machines.
To do it with expert systems, we need to reduce the legal diagnosis expertise into rules.
The rules need to move from the general to the specific.
Take this example of a legal problem.
Ayla is in a dispute with the operator of a gym called HotBods. She signed up for a membership 8 days ago but found that every time she goes there, at least half the equipment is broken at any given time. She also says that she expected to use the yoga studio, but is being told she has to upgrade to a more important membership to participate in the classes. Ayla says the gym owner should pay her back all the money she has paid so far. She also says that she never wants to set foot in the HotBods club again.
Now look at how we might reduce the problem into rules for the purposes of legal diagnosis.
The subject’s (Ayla’s) issue relates to buying and selling.
The subject is the purchaser.
The subject bought for personal, household or family use, making her a consumer under the law.
The consumer entered into a contract for services.
The consumer’s contract is a continuing services contract.
The consumer wants to cancel the continuing services contract.
Consumer law in this jurisdiction allows a consumer to cancel a continuing services contract within 15 days of making the contract with no penalty.
Because this consumer entered into the continuing services contract within 15 days, she can cancel the contract with no penalty.
The rules diagnose this legal problem by moving from general (buying and selling) into the specific (cancellation of a continuing services contract within 15 days).
The rules are created by knowledge engineers, working with subject matter experts in the legal domain. Together, they enable a machine to diagnose a relatively complex legal problem.