Automation in the Legal Industry

Most people accept that advancing artificial intelligence and the spread of robotic automation will change, and in many cases replace blue-collar jobs, like factory work; but intellectually-intensive or white-collar work, surely, cannot be in jeopardy. That opinion is changing, fast, including within the legal profession, where the trends are even overcoming technological inertia and the preference for business-as-usual in firms big and small. “Computers and the law” might only bring to mind e-discovery. But what was once legal professionals aided by computers is quickly being entrusted mostly to the machines – due in large part to the massive amount of documents to go through in modern cases, and the routine, predictable nature of the task. (See the following link for more information: http://fortune.com/2015/02/25/5-jobs-that-robots-already-are-taking/)

This can mean two very different things. For a firm’s bottom-line, it’s likely good news.  What once required expensive teams of associates, paralegals, and office assistants can now be done in a fraction of the time and cost – without complaint or need for food and sleep, with superior efficiency and accuracy; the ideal employee. However, as firms move beyond e-discovery to, perhaps, finding precedents, it may be hard to predict how far up the chain the displacement will go. The entire legal field can’t be automated – there will always be need for trusted advisors to identify unique solutions that cannot be found in a programming algorithm — but a legal advice and consultation bot or app is not beyond the realm of possibility. One need only look at modern medicine to see how self-diagnosis can shake things up.

Some say the concerns and trends are being overstated, but there is no doubt firms are using technological advances to enhance the practice of law — and who knows how fast that will keep changing? For a look at how some firms are adopting legal review technology known as predictive coding in an effort to streamline doc reviews and how others have stumbled using automation, please find the following article: http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/28/technology/innovation/robot-lawyers/