The changing face of legal practice

AI and the legal profession:
AI and the legal profession: the changing face of legal practice

Have you played around with new Artificial Intelligence tools?

The amount of interesting answers that you can place in a chatbot or artificial intelligence software or app has become a popular and fun past-time for many of us.

There are also abundant articles about the effect that this technology will have on the future of work and our everyday lives. Some of these articles forecast a revolution of artificial intelligence, some suggest not much will change, some suggest a combination of both.

What’s changing in today’s law firms?

An interesting question that lawyers have been asking for some time now is – how might Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, and other technological developments such as automated online legal services, Technology Assisted Review of documents (TAR) and Electronic Document Management Systems alter legal practice?

In fact, the future is now as all of these developments are currently occurring in legal practice to some degree. The concept of new model law firms – ‘NewLaw’ as it’s called – has begun, but the AI trend is getting a foothold in all types of law firms. About a third of legal firms in Australia use AI at least for triaging the initial contact with clients.

A question that often arises from any discussion about technology, is what will this do to the job of lawyers? Will the robots take over the world? Have machines taken it over already?

The future of law through a crystal ball

The influential legal profession writer Richard Susskind (The End of Lawyers, Tomorrow’s Lawyers) has suggested that some components of lawyering are being gradually replaced by ‘increasingly capable machines’ and technological legal services creating a challenge to the legal profession. Susskind suggests that clients will want ‘more for less’. He sees a regulation of the profession and a merging of professions, lawyers as project managers who must be adaptable to changing technology, computing, and systems analysis. Within this transition, lawyers will also increasingly be using the efficiencies they gain from technology to take a larger advisory role and creating the opportunity to offer additional value to their clients.

Other writers have suggested that skills of future lawyers “will depend upon the irreducible value of human beings to the law and legal processes. Tasks that require creativity, complex reasoning or social intelligence (such as the ability to negotiate complex social relationships effectively) will remain the province of human beings” Very simply, the more that technology is able to assist the core skillset of lawyers, the more lawyers will be increasingly expected to use their human skills to create positive outcomes for their clients.

Stay tuned for our upcoming article: AI and the legal profession: meet the lawyer of the future to understand how the skills lawyers need are changing with these advancements in technology.


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