A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet.

Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley’s next victim. But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of A.I. in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process.

Extract from article by Steve Lohr

In January, the McKinsey Global Institute found that while nearly half of all tasks could be automated with current technology, only 5 percent of jobs could be entirely automated. Applying its definition of current technology — widely available or at least being tested in a lab — McKinsey estimates that 23 percent of a lawyer’s job can be automated.

Technology will unbundle aspects of legal work over the next decade or two rather than the next year or two, legal experts say. Highly paid lawyers will spend their time on work on the upper rungs of the legal task ladder. Other legal services will be performed by nonlawyers — the legal equivalent of nurse practitioners — or by technology.

Corporate clients often are no longer willing to pay high hourly rates to law firms for junior lawyers to do routine work. Those tasks are already being automated and outsourced, both by the firms themselves and by outside suppliers like Axiom, Thomson Reuters, Elevate and the Big Four accounting firms.

Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley’s next victim. But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of A.I. in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process. In other words, like it or not, a robot is not about to replace your lawyer. At least, not anytime soon.

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