Symposium looks at AI potential

Chief Justice Helen Bowskill delivers a welcome address to the QLS Symposium at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The legal sector should embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI), not fear it, practitioners at the Queensland Law Society Symposium were advised on Friday.

Chief Justice Bowskill spoke of AI’s potential as she welcomed attendees to the sold-out annual professional development event at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this is not happening; rather we need to embrace it, understand it, and deal with it, so it’s very positive that you have a session included in this symposium on that very topic from a very eminent speaker,” she said.

That speaker was University of Sydney Professor Ed Santow, who joined more than 50 other speakers across 30 sessions in the six streams of property, commercial, criminal, personal injury, family and succession law.

Professor Ed Santow

Chief Justice Bowskill said responses generated by AI did not reflect the process of comprehension, reasoning and judgment which the human mind, particularly the legal mind, applied to find a solution to a question or problem.

She said in a legal context, the technology presented a range of potential uses, and the court was working on developing guidelines for the responsible use of AI, following New Zealand’s lead.


“Importantly though, I don’t think we need to fear  it, in the sense of the arrival of AI sounding the death knell to lawyers,” she said.

“No chatbot can replace the human legal mind. It is likely that it will be useful to speed up or streamline some labour-intensive tasks.

“Perhaps in time it will even address some of the barriers to accessing justice – for example, because it could be a means of identifying relevant laws and legal principles that apply to a particular legal situation, or may even be used to facilitate simple transactions or the resolution of straightforward disputes in a cost-effective manner.

“But there will never be any substitute for the human legal mind in this realm of the protection and enforcement of citizens’ legal rights and responsibilities.”

Chief Justice Bowskill encouraged the audience to use the one-day symposium as a short reprieve from busy lives, and to “allow your mind to be expanded, your thoughts to be provoked and your new ideas to take hold”.

“At its simplest, it is an opportunity to spend time with your colleagues, perhaps meet new ones, in a more relaxed environment than might otherwise be the case on opposing sides in a transaction or a dispute,” she said.


She said the networking opportunity reflected the event’s theme Shaping The Legal Mind.

“Legal minds take time, training, education and experience to develop and mature,” she said.

“New lawyers, in particular, need active support and encouragement to build their capabilities, to find fulfilment in their work and to thrive, but not-so-new lawyers need it too.”

Chief Justice Bowskill said it was fitting that the Symposium coincided with International Women’s Day, which had the theme “Inspire Inclusion”.

“I hope that through your learning and networking, over the course of this symposium, that you all feel included within this great profession of ours and empowered, and in turn that you feel re-energised by this opportunity to learn so that you can take on the challenges and enjoy the opportunities that come when you return to your ordinary working lives,” she said.

Recordings of Friday’s sessions will soon be available for purchase in the QLS Shop.


Keep an eye on Proctor this week for more QLS Symposium coverage.

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