A few weeks ago, the Guardian named the Law as one skilled job that could soon be replaced by robots.
“as artificial intelligence improves, the need for a human lawyer in the vast majority of cases will shrink substantially”
The discussion as to whether artificial intelligence and robots will start to replace humans is particularly acute in the area of law. Considered a human-only field, given its sensitivity and academic interplay between theory and the real world, many doubt the ability of computers to compete.
If one agrees that the work of law is “large, codified bodies of information that are freely available but very expensively applied via the legal profession,” then there may well be ways that advances in technology and the power of computers could replace humans.
Certain parts of being a lawyer – like conveyancing, drawing-up contracts, preparing wills – are actually quite simple, and might be able to be handed over to robots in the near future. We could see the systemising of compliance functions in mainstream corporate law firms and some, like Legal Business, predict the ‘reshaping’ of the underlying business model of the law as we know it.
This is less a debate about the ‘replacement’ of lawyers by artificial intelligence, then, but rather whether the law has the agility to adapt to new law tools. Technology advancement is offering lawyers tools that allow them to improve their offering and while, yes, there may come a time when lawyers must step sideways to offer ‘comparative advantage’ to machines, it’s unlikely they’ll be replaced by them.
Lawyers must simply adapt to new technologies to stay competitive in an increasingly systemised industry.
“The legal industry is conservative but has always had more ability to rapidly adapt when necessary than is acknowledged.”
Though some areas of legal work may be made more efficient and cheaper with technology, lawyers’ jobs are safe. Technology is still creating more jobs than it’s displaced, and it will be some time before technology can boast the intelligence to fight a case in court!
Want to know more about how IT systems and technology can improve the way you work in chambers? Talk to us about our IT support services and how one of our audits may help you implement these new tools.
Don’t get too comfy, though. The robots are coming!