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pearsonspecterlitt

Automation Questions

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I had a couple questions about automation in the legal field as well as how it compares to other professional services.

1) How will attorneys be affected by automation in the next decade?

2) How long do you think it'll take for lawyers to be 100% automated? 100 years from now? 200?

3) Would you consider being a lawyer a safer, less safe or about the same compared to the business/finance world eg: Investment bankers, consultants, private equity, etc.

4) Is a J.D. safer from automation than a CPA?

Thanks

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I'm assuming you mean automation through AI, im going to be using the terms interchangeably.   I'm going to start my response off by saying AI will drastically change the legal landscape but not soon and probably not in the way a lot of people outside the legal system are hoping. AI isn't nearly as far along as the media wants people to believe, we are still pretty early in humanity's journey with it. It's not capable of much more than the simplest of requests. We don't have self driving cars down yet and that's a pretty simple set of instructions.

1) within the next decade? probably not much beside what has already happened, which is low level research and drafting documents. Companies like Westlaw and Lexus nexus will definitely be using it to refine their search engines and provide a better product. Jobs usually done by support staff, summer students and articling students will be the first to go and might be totally replaced within our lifetime. Boilerplate documents are already drafted up automatically (it's been this way for a long time) and the support staff just fill in the blanks and hand it off to the lawyer.  The actual legal work still remains in the hands of the lawyer.

2) 100% automated? if the legal system gets automated you don't really have to worry about employment because at that point almost noone will be working anyways.  If AI reachs this stage society will probably have undergone a massive restructuring and there's no real predicting the outcome of that.

3)Career safety? I would say law is going to be more safe but if its not see the answer to question 2. 

4) I don't have enough experience to give a any opinion that holds weight so what follows it just pure subjective guessing (even more than the rest of this post), but I think lawyers jobs are more complex than a CPAs and there is a wider application so lawyers will exist in some form longer than CPAs.

Final Disclaimer: I'm only a 2L that has spent time in a transactional law firm, so all of my answers are based of that.  Other people on this forum will have a better answer for the litigation side of this.

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21 minutes ago, pearsonspecterlitt said:

I had a couple questions about automation in the legal field as well as how it compares to other professional services.

1) How will attorneys be affected by automation in the next decade?

2) How long do you think it'll take for lawyers to be 100% automated? 100 years from now? 200?

3) Would you consider being a lawyer a safer, less safe or about the same compared to the business/finance world eg: Investment bankers, consultants, private equity, etc.

4) Is a J.D. safer from automation than a CPA?

Thanks

I'll take a swing at this......

  1. I personally expect to be replaced by a shouting vending machine that just shoots out Court judgement or sees Tort liability everywhere by the time I graduate.
  2. Having been in a law office once or twice, I am not convinced some lawyers haven't already been replaced by robots. The long hours seem..... unsustainable by normal standards of human life. 
  3. I dunno... .Wolf of Wallstreet made all of that look pretty "Lit"  
  4. Given how far the phone has come in the last couple decades... from "flip-phones" to "Tinder" ... who knows where the Calculator could go....? 
5 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

I'm assuming you mean automation through AI, im going to be using the terms interchangeably.   I'm going to start my response off by saying AI will drastically change the legal landscape but not soon and probably not in the way a lot of people outside the legal system are hoping. AI isn't nearly as far along as the media wants people to believe, we are still pretty early in humanity's journey with it. It's not capable of much more than the simplest of requests. We don't have self driving cars down yet and that's a pretty simple set of instructions.

1) within the next decade? probably not much beside what has already happened, which is low level research and drafting documents. Companies like Westlaw and Lexus nexus will definitely be using it to refine their search engines and provide a better product. Jobs usually done by support staff, summer students and articling students will be the first to go and might be totally replaced within our lifetime. Boilerplate documents are already drafted up automatically (it's been this way for a long time) and the support staff just fill in the blanks and hand it off to the lawyer.  The actual legal work still remains in the hands of the lawyer.

2) 100% automated? if the legal system gets automated you don't really have to worry about employment because at that point almost noone will be working anyways.  If AI reachs this stage society will probably have undergone a massive restructuring and there's no real predicting the outcome of that.

3)Career safety? I would say law is going to be more safe but if its not see the answer to question 2. 

4) I don't have enough experience to give a any opinion that holds weight so what follows it just pure subjective guessing (even more than the rest of this post), but I think lawyers jobs are more complex than a CPAs and there is a wider application so lawyers will exist in some form longer than CPAs.

Final Disclaimer: I'm only a 2L that has spent time in a transactional law firm, so all of my answers are based of that.  Other people on this forum will have a better answer for the litigation side of this.

Lol..... but this is a better answer

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Great response, your answers make a lot of sense to me though one thing did catch my eye. You mentioned how summer/articling positions will be first to be automated. This seems to make sense but in this case, how would prospective students get experience before becoming fully employed?

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1 minute ago, pearsonspecterlitt said:

Great response, your answers make a lot of sense to me though one thing did catch my eye. You mentioned how summer/articling positions will be first to be automated. This seems to make sense but in this case, how would prospective students get experience before becoming fully employed?

It could very well raise the bar to entry for new grads.  What I am hopeful for is that firms start to make better use of students instead of using them as research machines. Right now the summering and articling positions are just used as an extended on the job interview to see if the person will be a worthwhile hire later.  

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Of all the questions that seem to appear in a cycle on this board, this one confuses me the most. It reliably gets brought up ever 4-6 months, and I just ... don't get it. I know where students are getting their stupid ideas about Suits. I know where they hear about the "Seven Sisters." I understand where other concerns and misconceptions and obsessions get planted. This one, I just don't know where it comes from. Are students being told in undergrad that they should try to automation-proof their careers?

Look. Every once in a while someone makes some noise about supposedly creating an algorithm to somehow "do" law, but I've yet to see anything that can do it in a meaningful way. Sure there are time-saving tools. Every profession has time-saving tools. But there's still a human using those tools at every meaningful juncture. Worrying that the tools will somehow supplant the human lawyer is just inane, in my view. Even tallying the grunt work it eliminates and imagining that represents a shrinkage in the field is misguided. That's like looking at the legal profession in the 1700's and observing how much of the profession was employed in rote copying and saying "look how many jobs word processing has eliminated!"

The OP's question at least established a reasonable comparison group. I won't swear that AI will never replace real, thinking humans. But come the day AI can replace lawyers, it'll pretty much have replaced everything else too. And by then we'll either spend all our time goofing off, or be turned into human batteries after losing the war.

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/jpmorgan-marshals-an-army-of-developers-to-automate-high-finance

JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours

 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/29/19-year-olds-robot-lawyer-overturns-160000-parking-tickets/

19-year-old's 'robot lawyer' overturns 160,000 parking tickets

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/05/23/how-ai-and-machine-learning-are-transforming-law-firms-and-the-legal-sector/#a406fb732c38

How AI And Machine Learning Are Transforming Law Firms And The Legal Sector

 

https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/author/sandra-shutt/artificial-intelligence-3585/

Artificial intelligence

 

http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/698344/new+technology/Tech+Central+Legal+technology+AI+and+the+evolving+role+of+the+lawyer

Canada: Tech Central: Legal Technology, AI, And The Evolving Role Of The Lawyer

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/artificial-intelligence-takes-the-drudgery-out-of-legal-work/article36749161/

Artificial intelligence takes the drudgery out of legal work

 

https://www.osler.com/en/about-us/press-room/2017/artificial-intelligence-canadian-lawyer

Artificial intelligence – Canadian Lawyer

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/17/lawyers-could-be-replaced-by-artificial-intelligence.html

Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers

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15 minutes ago, Deadpool said:

I won't claim I've read all the articles, but skimming the titles only puts them into the category of what I was saying before. It's buzz. And it's confusing the tool with the real work of a lawyer. If something automated actually killed thousands of parking tickets I guess that's real "law" in a way, but I can't believe it's more sophisticated than automating something simple that you can't pay a human being enough to care about doing for what it's worth.

Again, there's a difference between automation and AI. I seriously don't think anyone has tried to grapple with my point about drafting. Do you realize how many people used to be employed simply to copy documents by hand? No one seriously imagines that word processing and photocopying killed a whole swath of the profession simply because students and junior lawyers don't sit all day copying contracts in longhand. The real work of this profession is creative and analytical. And that's before we even talk about the actual advocacy and human interaction. The day computers can do that, they can do damn near anything.

EDIT: I've now read about the ticket-fighting "robot lawyer" and it's actually no more sophisticated than the SimpleTax program I used until recently. That is, it's a nice little choose-your-own adventure program, with the appropriate rules filled in, but to pretend it's AI is just absurd. It's no more AI than a DIY will kit.

Edited by Diplock
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29 minutes ago, Diplock said:

EDIT: I've now read about the ticket-fighting "robot lawyer" and it's actually no more sophisticated than the SimpleTax program I used until recently. That is, it's a nice little choose-your-own adventure program, with the appropriate rules filled in, but to pretend it's AI is just absurd. It's no more AI than a DIY will kit.

This is exactly my point on AI not being what the media says it is. The chances of lawyers getting replaced in our lifetime is pretty small.

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