One of the most popular recent enhancements to Google’s Gmail has been the feature called Smart Compose, first introduced in May 2018 and given several enhancements since. Powered by machine learning, Smart Compose offers suggestions as you type for completing sentences. Google says the feature has saved people from typing “over 1 billion characters each week.”

Today, Google announced several additional enhancements to Gmail, including to its Smart Compose feature. As The Verge reports this morning, these include the option to schedule emails and improvements to Smart Compose that give it the ability to “adapt to the way you write.”

But in this exclusive April 1 report, LawSites has been given an advance look at another soon-to-be-released enhancement — Smart Compose for Lawyers.

Developed specifically for use by legal professionals, Smart Compose for Lawyers uses machine learning to suggest language that will make your emails sound more like those of a lawyer. Specifically, it suggests phrases based on esoteric and obscure legalese. It uses an algorithm that was trained to suggest abstruse legal phrases and boilerplate as well as arcane Latin words and phrases.

In testing the new feature, I was drafting an email responding to a friend who invited me to a movie. As I began to type, “I’d be happy to join you  …,” Gmail’s Smart Compose suggested I complete the sentence with this:

… provided, however, that should I be unable to attend because of acts of God, strikes, failure of carrier or utilities, explosions, war, terrorism or a similar occurrence, I shall not be liable for damages to our friendship.

Ray Guidicata, Google’s chief engineer on the project, said that the algorithm was trained using cases and law review articles in Google Scholar. In addition, Google worked with a major Silicon Valley law firm, which assigned a team of commercial contract associates to QC the training process and ensure the legalese was at once “obscure but conversational.”

Phrases that regularly appeared in my testing of the new product included “notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein” and “including but in no way limited to.” Among the Latin phrases suggested were “non compos mentis,” “in flagrante delicto,” and the frequent “inter alia.”

Using this feature, I found that even the simplest email could be made dense and incomprehensible. I particularly liked its suggestion to replace my typical sign-off of “best” with “further your affiant sayeth naught.” I thought that gave my emails just right tone of semi-formality.

The new feature will be rolled out in beta to select law firms, Google said. A final production release is slated for April 1, 2020.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.