Does More AI Mean Fewer Lawyers?

Does More AI Mean Fewer Lawyers?

One of the top 10 legal trends in 2018 that we’ve identified is an increase in the implementation of artificial intelligence. If you’re a lawyer and this makes you uneasy, you’re not alone. But one CEO of an AI legal technology company says there’s no need to fear: AI will likely create more legal jobs — not take them away.

In Above the Law, Jake Heller of Casetext writes that he understands the fear and acknowledges that technology will accomplish tasks that humans once did. “But that doesn’t mean it will necessarily take your job,” he says.

Heller presents the “unexpected ways” markets have reacted to technology. For example, since ATMs have been introduced, rather than eliminating bank tellers’ jobs, now there are now twice as many tellers. Accounting is another example. Since AI has been introduced and automated many of the time-consuming tasks, the Big Four accounting firms make more and employ more than all of Am Law 100 combined.

Heller identifies three scenarios in which AI could mean an increase in jobs for lawyers.

  1. Technology will reduce the costs of representing a client (intake, research, discovery, brief writing, managing client relations), allowing lawyers to grow their business.
  2. Lower and more predictable costs will translate to more lawsuits and transactions. While attorneys may make less per litigation or transaction, they’ll serve more clients seeking legal assistance for more matters.
  3. Like how banks responded after installing ATMs, firms may also change their business model.

Heller expands on the last scenario:

“Technology may not necessarily lead law firms to open more offices — at the very least, likely not as many offices as there are local bank branches — but there undoubtedly will be new opportunities available to firms that are open to adapting their business models as the profession adapts to new technologies.”

So with regard to AI’s impact on the legal industry, change may not just be good, it could be great. Lawyers are encouraged not to fear the burgeoning technology.

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