The Impact of Technology on the Legal Profession

There’s been a lot of buzz in the legal profession about the impact of technology, in particular machine learning and artificial intelligence, and what it might mean for jobs and functions in legal going forward.

You may recall our Above the Law interview with Zach Abramowitz called “Do Robots Make Better Lawyers.” In this conversation, we explored this concept and provided some clarity on the types of legal functions that can absolutely benefit from automation. 

According to another article from Futurism that dives into a new analysis from Deloitte Insight, within the next two decades, Peter Saunders, lead partner for professional practices at Deloitte states, “advances in technology mean that an ever greater number of traditional, routine tasks within the legal sector can be automated by smart and self-learning algorithms.” 

He continues, “explaining this disparity requires an examination of the changing nature of legal work. Firms have been using robotics and algorithms to automate routine processes, with some firms already using virtual assistants to assist clients and perform in-house functions. To handle large volumes of contract information and data, law firms have also turned to advanced analytics, an indication of the potential of outsourcing repetitive processes to algorithms.”

The article explains how the change is creating new higher-skilled, better-paying jobs, ones that design, implement and manage these new disruptive technologies. As a result of these innovations and disruptions, the legal profession is poised for great change. Our own engagement with firms and in-house legal ops teams supports this.  

The effort, time and cost of manually finding, extracting, managing and reporting on contract data on an ongoing basis is seen as unfeasible and impractical. Furthermore, repetitive manual tasks are generally not fulfilling for highly skilled legal professionals. It makes perfect sense to automate manual processes in these time-consuming, costly and error-prone functions. Automation will never replace human ingenuity and creativity. Rather, lawyers and legal professionals will simply leverage contract analytics and AI to enhance their analysis without the need for data or analytics specialists.

Besides the speed and efficiency of automation, there’s a direct impact on customer satisfaction (and attorney satisfaction) as well, whether that’s a client of a law firm or a line-of-business stakeholder inside an organization.

There will always be a need for skilled lawyers, with the training, skills and experience to provide high-value legal guidance and advice for decision making. But for the lower value, more administrative processes within the legal profession, such as contract discovery and analysis, technology disruption is inevitable. For legal professionals who understand the disruption and prepare for it proactively, the change will be positive, with robots and lawyers working together.

Learn more in our recent publication, Transform Legal Approvals from a Contract Bottleneck.

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