Legal Consulting Firm Believes Artificial Intelligence Could Replace Lawyers by 2030
Tony Williams, the founder of the British-based legal consulting firm, said that law firms will see nearly all their process work handled by artificial intelligence robots. The robotic undertaking will revolutionize the industry, “completely upending the traditional associate leverage model.”
In this report, ‘Civilisation 2030: The Near Future for Law Firms’ we explore what will be the impact on clients and law firms of three key factors that shape the global economy: demographics, the growth of global cities and megacities, as well as the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics into both the industrial and professional sectors. The report closely analysed macro-economic data and key trends then considered how these will develop to 2030.
The report predicts that the artificial intelligence technology will replace all the work involving processing information, along with a wide variety of overturned policies.
AI bots could foreseeably take over any work with a systemic component that involves the processing of information. That includes low-level knowledge economy work, like due diligence, that is currently performed by very junior lawyers.
Williams also said that these knowledge bots would go beyond the retrieval function of today’s “knowledge management” software and work on the material, impacting associate and paralegals majorly.
While the report leans heavily toward the artificial intelligence technology, not everyone believes every facet of the legal structure can be automated. Ken Chasse, a lawyer at Barrister & Solicitor for more than 48 years, wrote an independent report in October 2014 that says legal advice cannot be automated, by nature.
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Keeping the Human Touch in Artificial Intelligence
In Canada, the legal landscape is faced with proposals for alternative business structures (ABS’s) that allow the ownership of law firms by investors, otherwise non-lawyer people or entities. These ABS’s want legal services to provide non-legal services as well as automate legal services by software applications.
Chasse thinks that services can be automated by the current legal structure itself, without the need to ABS’s or investors.
“All of the new software developments are based upon improving the handcraftsman’s method of law firms delivering routine legal services. But they cannot automate legal advice services.”
The main issue with the current legal structure is that it’s viewed as overpriced and costly, according to the report. But Chasse thinks the current tools at hand are far more cost-efficient with the aid of support services. He claims in his own report that law societies can process, and have processed, more than 5,000 legal opinion services per year by working with support services.
The previous report on artificial intelligence replacing many facets of the legal structure by 2030 mentions the human element as well. Williams says that from a client’s perspective, artificial intelligence will be nothing more than a production tool. The robots proposed could not make decisions based on human factors.
“Clients would greatly value the human input of the firm’s top partners, especially those that could empathize with the client’s needs and show real understanding and human insight into their problems.”
The main purpose of the bots is to save money, according to Williams, as they would simply process minor work, 24 hours a day; never needing to rest or ask for a raise while eliminating jobs that cost $100,000 or more in salary. The work would make legal services more affordable, and partners that were once paid quite well might find themselves with a lowered salary or out of a job, Williams said.
Whether or not artificial intelligence will take out the legal structure is still unknown, as the report was only speculation. The consulting firm did not develop any artificial intelligence technology, or at least did not disclose such information in the report, so it is still unclear whether or not their findings are accurate.
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