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Attorneys Appearing in Court

You’ve probably heard talk that automation is here to take everyone’s jobs. “Not just the blue collar jobs”, they’ll say, “but YOUR job, too”. That’s right, automation is slated to replace lawyers.

Don’t be so sure about that.

Automation does bring social change - there is a very good possibility that the nature of work will change and that some jobs will disappear, but the work of an attorney can’t be replaced wholly by a machine. The people who talk about computers acting as attorneys might see the law like an equation; you process the facts and an answer is spit out. As we all know, the law doesn’t quite look like this, and a whole lot of abstract reasoning and people skills that computers do not yet possess are required to do this work. This isn’t to say computers won’t eventually develop these skills; it simply seems unlikely they will within the near future.

Now, automation has already affected the way we work. Many firms have already begun to use CRM software which automates a lot of the work once done by people. In a similar vein, eDiscovery softwares have rapidly changed the way research is done. There are even legal analytics programs that purport to be able to accurately predict the outcome of court cases. This has created an interesting battleground for competing law firms; any two firms are likely to have different software and automation at their disposal, and they can use these differences to their advantage. To ignore the possibilities that automation presents is to ignore the future of law.

While automation does open up new frontiers, it doesn’t come without disadvantages. The role of lawyer may not disappear, but the kinds of work that attorneys do is changing. Software like LegalZoom is becoming more popular so there is less demand for lawyers to write certain legal documents. One might imagine all sorts of other automations as new software is developed. The blockchain is enabling trustless transactions, which may dramatically change contract law and holding money in trusts.

All this is to say that there’s no doubt that automation is changing the way attorneys work. Though this creates challenges, it is, for the most part, to everyone’s advantage. Work can be done more efficiently, fewer mistakes are made, and time that would be spent on mundane tasks can instead be used for the things that humans do better than computers. We’ve already seen how digital technology has changed law for the better; think about how much more efficient communications are thanks to the internet. In fact, that’s why we’re in business! We offer local counsel services with almost no notice. We’ll also keep you informed about important trends at the intersection of law and technology.