The possibilities — and questions — around Artificial Intelligence (AI) have reached the legal industry. AI can handle tasks traditionally carried out by lawyers, including historical case data processing, legal research, and case outcome prediction. The capabilities of legal tech continue to advance every year.
As the technology progresses, the same concern arises in the legal industry as in many others: will AI and automation replace human intelligence, leaving the profession obsolete?
The short answer is: no. AI will not be replacing legal professionals any time soon. However, according to a Deloitte report, 39 percent of legal jobs can (and more than likely will be) automated. So, what does this mean for the future of law firms and legal teams?
Here are a few ways that AI will impact the legal profession — and why you shouldn’t be worried.
Elimination of Time-Consuming Legal Tasks
AI and automation have the potential to replace up to 23 percent of a lawyer’s daily responsibilities. Many of these tasks are mundane, paperwork-based responsibilities that take legal professionals away from the strategic needs of a case.
In fact, many law firms are already using AI to assist with the following tasks:
- Document review for due diligence or litigation
- Contract analysis and qualification according to a set criteria
- Legal research
- Case outcome prediction
While AI can assist with proper document selection for a case, for example, the technology is far from being able to take on client advisory, negotiations, or even creating legal briefs — so lawyers won’t be replaced from their primary responsibilities. However, the tech can act as a tool for making court appearances more effective.
Efficiency Gains & Deeper Legal Knowledge
As the industry progresses, experience increasingly becomes of higher value than routine legal work. In fact, many corporate clients are no longer willing to pay for legal paperwork due to the possibilities of automation. This means that law firms can charge more for experience, consultations, and analysis, while relieving their teams from mundane tasks.
In general, here are the changes the legal industry may experience in the upcoming decade:
- Lawyers will become fewer, while being more knowledgeable about strategic approaches
- Junior associates will no longer conduct time-consuming documentation or research
- Specific practice areas will become less important as AI augments lawyers’ knowledge
The impact has already been felt in the industry, as law firms and large corporations alike are leaning on legal tech. The resulting efficiency gains have added to the appeal, and will only continue to grow with future legal tech developments.
Legal Professionals will Have to Embrace Legal Tech
Legal professionals who embrace legal tech can add immense value to their individual practice or firm. In fact, ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to keep up with legal tech developments. The “Model Rules,” which apply to 27 states, state the following:
“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology…”
Legal tech contains benefits beyond added efficiency — like added security precautions — and failing to use it properly (or at all) can result in malpractice or other serious implications. When it comes to the future, the industry anticipates more stringent regulations and requirements around legal tech, including training practices of the workforce.
AI will not be replacing the legal professional any time soon, though it may serve as an effective tool to increase productivity of your teams. However, before you consider AI for your corporation, turn your attention toward legal process improvements, resource allocation and employing more efficient tools for your teams. Then, you can implement AI and automation to further support your practices.
Ultimately, legal tech should serve for optimal decision making based on real time data, accuracy, and optimal speed — which, when implemented correctly, AI can contribute to your workflows.
We already know that major disruptions are approaching the legal industry due to AI and automation. Instead of being victim to the changes, law firms and legal teams must prepare for the future of the legal profession by perfecting their current legal processes and incorporating tech to reach their goals.