Updated: Jul 20, 2020
From ‘smart contracts’ to apps, opportunities to replace lawyers with software abound.
Law firms are increasingly interested in the possibility for technology to help them to offer faster improved services to their clients. While a rise in precision, efficiency and access are among certain benefits gained by incorporating artificially intelligent, advanced technologies into the legal practice, it remains an extremely worrying chance to many that the use of automated technologies may in fact endanger jobs in the legal field. The severity can be shown through the study conducted by Deloitte in 2016, a professional services firm, which forecasted that 114,000 jobs in the legal profession in the UK alone are expected to be automated within next 20 years.
However, even with these worries, many legal professionals argue that the role of a lawyer can never really be replaced.
It is believed that technology will complement legal work, instead of replacing it. While machines can produce findings and sort through relevant precedent, they are unable to offer softer skills that make up the role of a lawyer. Artificial intelligence cannot understand a client in the same way a human lawyer can and cannot hold a conversation with a client as to the better option for their specific needs.
Therefore, automated services arguably do not abolish jobs, but supplement legal work, permitting lawyers to decrease time spent on repetitive, low-value tasks and instead concentrate on attaining quality in the work that clients truly value. Outsourcing work via automation and digital networks creates additional time for lawyers to chase bespoke tasks.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that there are various legal technology companies, universities and law firms which are investigating the extent to which the cognitive domain of lawyers can also be automated. The objective of these businesses is to try automate some of the cognitive abilities of skilled professionals to provide institutions with intelligent decision support tools.
Like many things, technology has its negatives and positives, however, it seems to be a development which will allow the legal sector to advance and provide better legal services to clients at the potential cost of job loss and restructuring of the business model of law firms.