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12 December 2019
press release

Austria: Lawyer vs. Robot: Is there a future without human lawyers?

On 10 December, experts from both legal practice and academia spent the evening at the "Lawyer vs. Robot: A lost cause?" event which is part of the event series TECHNOLOGYLEGAL, a collaboration between Professor Christian Piska from the University of Vienna, and Christian Schmelz, partner at Schoenherr Vienna.

Intelligent machines are increasingly taking over not only machine processes, but also cerebral labour, such as practising law. They can analyse large amounts of information faster than humans. This makes them a useful tool for lawyers in many cases, explained Christian Piska in his keynote speech. "Through machine learning, Artificial Intelligence becomes more accurate, faster and more efficient with every dataset processed. Thereby, the job description of a lawyer will change significantly. Educational institutions are facing the challenge to prepare law students for this new form of juridical work."

The transformation of legal practice as we know it was also a topic of the discussion led by Isabell Claus, from; Matthias Lichtenthaler, Bundesrechenzentrum; Christian Schieb, Unisys Österreich; as well as David Bierbauer, Thomas Kulnigg, Günther Leissler, and Veronika Wolfbauer, all from Schoenherr's Vienna office. The discussion was moderated by Christian Piska.

Christian Schmelz explained that to keep up with the pace of these changes, rethinking is required. He summed up the topic by saying that "we have to shape technological developments actively and suitably for practical use, so that we can further develop the branch constructively. To connect science, economics and doctrine, close collaboration is needed – such as in the think tank TECHNOLOGYLEGAL."



Following numerous joint projects and events on actual topics in the field of technology regulation, Christian Piska, Professor at the University of Vienna at the Institute for Constitutional and Administrative Law, and Christian Schmelz, partner at Schoenherr Vienna and honorary professor at the University of Vienna, decided in 2018 to institutionalise their long-standing, transdisciplinary cooperation in legal science and teaching. Since then, regular events have been held within the framework of the think tank.



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