The age of automation, much like the industrial revolution, will have an impact on employment like never before.
A study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute approximates that 22 percent of a lawyer’s job and 35 percent of a law clerk’s job can be automated. Artificial Intelligence (also known as AI) today, can automatically categorise documents, extract entities and find similar documents. It can even learn concepts, predict possible outcomes and interview a client with better results due to its lack of human judgement and bias.
In a field with an over-supply of graduates and a billable hours model, this does seem concerning in relation to the availability and profitability of a career in law either as a paralegal, legal clerk or a lawyer should AI prove superior to the human mind.
Despite growing anxiety surrounding job disposability, AI, for the most part, merely replaces tasks and alters jobs. It takes over mundane roles like poring over piles of documents meticulously for small details and improves the cost-productivity of the profession with such tasks being accomplished almost instantaneously. Hence, it makes legal help more accessible for the masses with a reduction in its cost due to the inherent billable hours structure of the legal field.
Moreover, AI also bridges the gap between boutique firms and large firms, caused by the disparity in resources. AI tools like ContractControl, are used by boutique firms like MIA Contract Lawyers in Melbourne, to efficiently manage contracts instead of only looking at them as a final resort when problems arise, as done by larger firms.
AI opens the legal industry to more innovative methods of working. Australian businesses like LawPath have managed to provide clients with over 700 lawyers with most of the work and contact remaining online. This not only increases access to legal help for clients in more remote locations or with disabilities, it also provides more career opportunities for those in the field.
Ultimately, rather than a phenomenon to be feared, AI should be welcomed into the legal field as it improves the quality and productivity of work. Rather, it is time to focus on training paralegals, legal clerks and lawyers in new ways to cope with the rising age of automation.