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Painting AI in the Legal Landscape

24th of January 2019 | Geri Palmer 

The legal landscape is forever shifting like the tectonic plates beneath us, and now with Artificial Intelligence becoming a household appliance which looks to be rapidly prevailing into the legal sector I can’t help questioning how it will affect legal jobs.

What can we expect?

What can we expect for the future of the legal landscape? It has been stated that some 20% of current legal roles are likely to be lost due to artificial intelligence over the next 20 years. Although we have to account for conscientious, human awareness, contemplation and analysis which is always going to be required in the legal sector. I can’t help but wonder, if we are about to say au revoir to those menial and tedious tasks of days gone by, could we be in danger of making junior roles redundant? Surely AI makes room to take out these mundane procedures therefore junior roles will naturally expand into more hands-on roles, undertaking more responsibility and giving lawyers the capacity to work on quality rather than quantity of cases.

AI in our lives

Our generation and the next are forcing productiveness as we prepare to be immersed in AI technology. It already controls our heating before we arrive home, warms the oven and has the power to turn on the lights and play your favourite radio station at set times of the day! We are indulging in complex and modern technology, without really knowing it, like when your husband pops out to buy a new speaker and inadvertently installs Alexa into every room of your house! True story! So as a result, it is leaking into our day to day lifestyle, inevitably seeping into legal practices. I believe the future holds out exciting innovations both professionally and within our private lives.

Legal technology will simplify processes

Adding AI won’t destroy the legal world, it will increase efficiency and make legal procedures less complicated. Eventually these tasks will be cheaper and faster to accomplish with the help of intelligent software. Eradicating long hours spent on legal research, data mining, reviewing documents and predicting case outcomes whilst removing human error from the equation. Staying traditional and holding those personable values will be increasingly important but also embracing AI will ultimately benefit law firms. Staying relevant in a legal culture that doesn’t devalue humans will be essential as we undergo continuous transformations within the legal scene.

The typewriter’s last note

Remember the loyal type writer? Seemingly so long forgotten and it wasn’t that many years ago! OK so I didn’t use one, but I had heard of them when I landed my first office job, quickly becoming familiar with keyboard function keys such as F3 and F7 coding which controlled case management systems. Not so many years ago, law firms were brimming with filing cabinets, files and legal documents spilling over desks in organised chaos, you would find a corner in the office filled with a miniature library which all employees in the firm used to reference law. Looking back at these fond memories of just how far the legal landscape has changed in the last decade to mostly paperless offices, is evident that firms adapt and embrace 21st century technology.

Recruiting Lawyers with AI capabilities

Law firms and lawyers will be recruited for their technology-enhanced services and capabilities. Using intricate AI which will offer higher-value work to unravel their clients’ legal obstacles while saving time, will be highly beneficial in the future. 2018 was the beginning of AI playing a crucial role in the candidate experience, setting the bar high for 2019. AI could not be used to recruit candidates for the job, yes it could cleanse databases and enter data, but it could not replace the personable decision-making thoughts of the people choosing employees based on their social abilities. Lawyers are comprehensive listeners who think laterally and strategically having gained experience through years of graft and philosophy. Compassion and empathy can’t be replaced by clock-work. In conclusion, AI cannot and will not replace lawyers. Staying in the game, however, and being the lawyer who is knowledgeable and capable of using AI is the only approach going forward into 2019. Do not be afraid of the future – get involved with it!

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