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How Can Lawyers Survive in an Automated World?

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 13, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There's no denying that we live in a digital world. For attorneys, the digital world has definitely provided some real conveniences. Digital projectors have replaced poster boards and easels, smartphones have revolutionized calendaring, digital filing is amazing, and the widespread adoption of email was absolutely game changing.

But, along with the conveniences technology brings, some attorney jobs have gone the way of the dodo bird thanks to new developments. AI programs are starting to not only do the job that an attorney or paralegal would, the AI is doing it better, faster, and more efficiently than any human lawyer ever could.

Fortunately, for most lawyers out there, your jobs are currently safe, but that might not be the case in a decade.

Can Your Role Be Automated?

If your job could be replaced by a robot or computer program, then you might want to enjoy it while it lasts as modern tech is catching up to the science-fiction fantasies we all grew up on. Software companies, programmers, and even law firms are looking at ways to automate the entire legal world.

From providing legal consumers with easy to navigate, understandable legal information to creating customized contracts and legal documents for nearly any situation, it's all coming, for better or worse.

The March of Technological Progress

As noted in a recent NPR piece taking a look at how ediscovery has changed the litigation world and job market, times have and will continue to change. If a lawyer doesn't want to be replaced by technology, they need to learn to use it to their advantage. Own the technology, learn to use the technology, and market your ability to do so to prospective clients.

Just a few years ago, big firms would hire scores of young lawyers for document review projects. But now, the jobs are fewer because automation has made the job easier. Firms no longer need lawyers to touch every single document produced as the software is good enough these days to reliably narrow down the relevant docs using search terms. While this may sound bleak, the ever-hopeful NPR notes that it could be a benefit to society as it might force more attorneys into public service.

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