THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

I have heard and seen this headline on radio and in newspapers and magazines quite a lot over the past few years.

The inference is pretty much always that artificial intelligence through legaltech automation will eventually fully replace lawyers to the extent the public will be dealing solely with robots as lawyers.

The theory goes that robots will do the work of lawyers and that lawyers will no longer be required and be redundant.

This understandably creates a degree of discomfort and uncertainty for young and older lawyers alike

On a bad day, doing the most mundane and repetitive and boring of legal tasks you can imagine as a lawyer, I would happily posture that any robot lawyer takeover is positive and would say “bring it on – let the robot have it all!”

On a good day however I am not letting go that easily!

THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

The reality of course is that lawyers will always be needed in some way or shape.

The reality also however is that artificial intelligence through legaltech is increasingly and will increasingly work in partnership with and in some cases in competition against lawyers to innovate their legal practices and produce alternative innovative legal models.

This is and should be seen as a positive not negative thing for lawyers, young and old and for clients of the lawyers and the general public.

I went to an excellent conference recently on Artificial Intelligence In Legal Practice held by The College Of Law’s Centre For Legal Innovation (full disclosure this is my academic employer). For more details on it please click here

It was clear throughout the day’s proceedings that the change being brought on by AI and legaltech is inevitable, desired and required in the legal profession but that it will occur albeit in a more incremental and considered manner that any headline that the robots are coming may suggest.

The beauty of this for lawyers is that there is still is time, time to think, time to plan, time to test and time to implement and react appropriately to using such AI legaltech technology.

There is no pressing legal practice emergency as such that requires immediate intervention.

It does however require lawyers immediate attention.

This is because AI is here now, here  to stay and when it does start to more significantly impact the legal profession as the technology matures, it will do so in a more snowballing fashion than previous technologies as AI’s inherent nature is to learn from itself and constantly and exponentially improve itself.

A head in the sand, hope this will go away and not affect me mentality for lawyers just won’t cut it it with AI legaltech. 

THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

Some key takeaways that I got from attending this conference were;

  • Lawyers will always be needed for bespoke legal work. The lawyer as the trusted advisor is not going anywhere, anytime soon. This is inextricably linked to the human touch that lawyers provide their clients.
  • However the low value, high volume, repetitive and mundane legal work we currently do is the fodder for the AI legaltech industry. This is where AI, legaltech and its robots is having and will have the most impact. In reality these are and will continue to be the areas where the profession is well overdue for disruption. Invariably these relate to a range of archaic time consuming low value processes that could be automated so as to let lawyers be lawyers not paper pushers.
  • Lawyers should not be coders and don’t need to learn coding. This is despite technology booming in areas such as Blockchain and AI requiring a more intricate knowledge of the engine room mechanics. Instead they should work collaboratively with the technologists, not in competition with them so that both can learn and interact with each other. The importance of this multidisciplinary approach, collaboration and networking has never been as important for lawyers than with emerging innovative technologies
  • The role of lawyers who are principals of law firms is to identify what AI legaltech opportunities to use on a continuing basis. Equally they need to identify what not to use or automate and recognise that budgetary, cost benefit and practical implementation restrictions are also a reality.
  • Recognition that lawyers need to know more about new emerging technologies for their own awareness and their clients sake so they can advise them properly. Also that they need to know more about the existing technologies in their own legal practices that they currently use and use them more efficiently e.g how they can use software as simple as Excel more comprehensively.
  • The sheer importance of data to AI, how it is collected and used, needs to be continually mined and the importance of recognising the ethical and privacy implications of law firm client data.
  • That lawyers need to be agile in their approach to adopting technology projects both in relation to adoption within their law firms and in relation to the practice of law generally with their clients. 

THE ROBOTS ARE COMING TO TAKE LAWYERS JOBS

Finally for those interested in reading more about this subject of automation, one of the best and most readable books I have come across recently on this subject is aptly titled The Robots Are Coming written by John Pugliano. I recommend it to you. Click here for the link to buy a copy of it.

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