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Change is always hard. Lawyers have seen the legal field transform with the arrival of machine learning, AI and case management software and there has been concern among lawyers about the future of their careers. If AI is so smart, can it take over legal jobs? If there is no need for someone to go through case files and spend nights finding that perfect case, will there be a need for lawyers at all?
Don’t worry. Such fears are natural, but unfounded. Mostly, they’re spearheaded by clickbait press articles that don’t necessarily reflect the reality on the ground. For the reality is this – tech is changing the legal field, but it can never replace lawyers. And it doesn’t aim to.
Growing, not shrinking, the legal field
Digital transformation is the hallmark of the fourth industrial revolution and lawyers are still understanding their place in this new world. There’s no denying that technology has changed the way lawyers do business. There is now case management software that helps you manage your time and projects better, along with AI and e-discovery platforms that process documents faster, apps that help with due diligence, and digital platforms that help with research – the range is endless.
But all this is expanding the legal field, not narrowing it. In a conference on technology and law, leaders at Pinsent Masons considered how new digital innovations have transformed their law firm. Jen Marshall emphasises how technology has changed the scope of business in her firm for the better:
“We are generating fees that we have never provisioned for because we’re getting work and instructions that we could never have imagined getting because of the use of these systems, and what we can deliver for clients through the use of these systems […] And actually, our experience has not been ‘this is reducing lawyer numbers’. It’s not about doing away with trainees, it’s not about ‘let’s have a really small business and just everyone relies on technology’. That’s not what it’s about. It’s a case of developing new skills and new areas of work for our lawyers.”
Legal technology doesn’t reduce the number of lawyers required; it simply streamlines processes to help companies expand their scope of business – leading them to hire more lawyers.
Legal technology is also expanding the scope of who can do law and how. At the same Pinsent Masons conference, hybrid opportunities were discussed. Embracing innovation creates varied new roles, including positions for legal knowledge and software engineering professionals. Participants of the conference discussed how rigid boundaries between professions are now dissolving. Instead, there is an openness to skills outside the legal profession that can help law firms be more nimble and agile in a consistently changing workspace, which makes law a more interesting place to be.
The value of human judgement
Above all, it must be remembered that technology is developed to work alongside human judgement, not replace it. Technology may streamline menial tasks and lead to the better everyday functioning of a law firm, but even the superior advancements like AI and machine learning need human judgement to leverage their relevance and insights. In the future, lawyers will move more towards doing what they were meant to do: utilising their legal minds to solve complex problems and provide value to their clients. Technology will simply be by their side to help them.
DPS is committed to providing software solutions that can help your law firm be at the cutting edge of this digital transformation. To learn more, get in touch with our friendly team today.