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When Lawyers Fear Legal Tech, Business Suffers

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

If the shark is at the top of the ocean food chain, what are sharks afraid of?

Starvation, that's what. It doesn't matter how many teeth you have if there is nothing left to bite.

Lawyers can relate. As technology takes away legal work, lawyers feel the threat of starvation. But the real danger is for lawyers who don't adapt to the changing times. Clients expect lawyers to keep up with technology. Even basic tech tools can significantly increase efficiency.

Without embracing new tech, lawyers may become toothless in an ocean with fewer sources of food. The good news is that technology isn't expected to take all the legal jobs anytime soon, and there's still time to adapt.

Nothing to Fear

According to many reports, including the New York Times, lawyers are afraid that artificial intelligence will take their jobs. In other words, they are worried they won't have enough money to put bread on the table.

Relax, says lawyer-turned-tech founder Richard Mabey. A former corporate attorney, Mabey says technology is not the enemy.

"Technology will not replace lawyers, it will help them work smarter," he said in a Forbes article. "Good lawyers have nothing to fear from technology."

Mabey founded Juro, a company to help businesses automate creating, negotiating, signing, and managing legal contracts. He said the contract-management program will take over tedious and time-consuming tasks so that lawyers will be free to focus on more lawyerly jobs.

Only 23 Percent for Now

According to researchers, only 23 percent of a lawyer's tasks can be automated with current technology. After analyzing 2,000 work activities for 800 occupations, McKinsey Global Institute reported that it will be a decade before artificial intelligence will take over any lawyer jobs.

"Impressive advances in artificial intelligence technology tailored for legal work have led some lawyers to worry that their profession may be Silicon Valley's next victim," Complex Discovery reported. "But recent research and even the people working on the software meant to automate legal work say the adoption of AI in law firms will be a slow, task-by-task process."

It is true that younger attorneys may have grown up with technologies like cell phones and the internet, and that older attorneys may have trouble changing outdated practices. But, says Harrison Barnes with BCG Attorney Search, the species has to adapt as a whole.

"Technologies, applications and devices are always changing and it is important for all attorneys in a given firm to be able to keep up with the pace of change and function well in a technologically sophisticated and evolving environment," the legal recruiter said.

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