2019 Symposium

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On Friday, February 1, 2019, the Cumberland Law Review presented “Automation and Appellate Advocacy.” The Symposium is a free continuing legal education event. The Symposium consisted of discussions between distinguished lawyers in the appellate advocacy practice area about how technology is changing appellate advocacy and the role of the attorney in the appellate process.

The keynote address is titled “‘Killer Apps’ and Appellate Advocacy: Past, Present, and Future” and was presented by Professor Janet Ainsworth of the Seattle University School of Law. Professor Ainsworth discussed what it means to be a “killer app” in the legal practice. Some “killer apps” today’s attorneys may be familiar with are technology assisted document review and contracts analytics software. While “killer apps” are not new to law practice, new apps are emerging that could greatly impact law practice in the future, such as argument bots and chat bots. Professor Ainsworth discussed what these emerging apps mean for the legal profession.

The first panel was presented with questions about automation and appellate advocacy, most of which will touch on matters of discretion. The panel consisted of Judge John Carroll, Professor Janet Ainsworth, Attorney Travis Ramey, and Attorney Starr Turner Drum. Among other issues, the panelists provided their input on how artificial intelligence is expected to impact the appellate process. As Travis Ramey pointed out, one significant way the artificial intelligence is impacting appellate advocacy is through the appellate brief drafting process.[1] Some argue artificial intelligence could potentially replace the attorney’s role in researching and writing the appellate brief.[2] Others suggest core analysis skills learned in law school and in practice are unlikely to be replaced by artificial intelligence.

The second panel also discussed contemporary issues in appellate advocacy, focusing on artificial intelligence and their place in modern appellate practice and other issues related to emerging technology and appellate advocacy. The second panel consisted of Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, Attorney Deborah Alley Smith, and Solicitor General Andrew Brasher. As Chief Judge Dillard wrote, “a lawyer’s likelihood of success on appeal before [the Georgia Court of Appeals] is largely dependent upon the substance of the appellate brief(s).”[3] Symposium attendees enjoyed hearing these exceptional panelists’ thoughts regarding the effect artificial intelligence may have on the appellate process.

The Cumberland Law Review appreciated the discussions that took place at the Symposium and were thankful for all that joined us for this exciting and informative event.

[1] Travis Ramey, American Bar Association, Appellate A.I. (Nov. 2017), available at https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/appellate_issues/2017fall_ai.authcheckdam.pdf#page=14.
[2] Id.
[3] Stephen Louis A Dillard, Open Chambers Revisited: Demystifying the Inner Workings and Culture of the Georgia Court of Appeals, 68 Mercer L. Rev. 1, 10 (2016).