Articles From the Team

What is the future of the legal profession? Does Artificial Intelligence (AI) signal the end of the lawyer?

Somewhere in a dark, hot and humming office a lawyer fiendishly beavers away on their latest project. The coffee machine is covered in dust because there is no reason to drink, the productive-less chatter and gossip of yesteryear is gone. In here there is only work and progress on the task at hand. The lawyer machines are here and they already have your job, you just don’t know it yet.

We are living through the greatest change in human history, over the next 10 or 20 years up to 2/3 of jobs which currently exist will cease requiring a human to carry them out. Of course like any evolution it will start at the centre and spread outwards, but where will the centre be?

Capitalism will always aim for the lowest hanging fruit first, or should I say the juiciest fruit? The fruit which is most likely to produce the most gains first and from there on out it will become a game of diminishing returns. To simplify further I`ll give you two options 1. A minimum wage window cleaner with complex physical/theoretical real world movements or 2. A highly paid lawyer involved in intensive document review and interpretation of clauses. A slightly loaded question I must admit but persuasive nonetheless, google AI lawyer and then google AI window cleaner, the threat is clear.

Lawyers are expensive and spend many hours carrying out reviews of documents and seeking answers therein, this is perfect for AI as they are logical systems built to search unstructured data for specific information. Now that AI can already incorporate intuition into their decision making (see: https://www.wired.com/2016/01/in-a-huge-breakthrough-googles-ai-beats-a-top-player-at-the-game-of-go/ ) then how are lawyers going to survive this incoming AI storm?

I disagree with the argument that https://qz.com/979812/how-ai-will-change-the-shape-of-organizations/ grunt work is still necessary to learn the ropes. In science we make children learn the basics because the advanced is supposedly too difficult to comprehend to a growing brain, often teaching incorrect models and philosophies to simplify theories when in fact we should skip to the good bit and not underestimate our children’s’ capacity to comprehend. I prefer to think that the next generation of lawyers will stand on the shoulders of giants from day one and progress the profession to the next level, indeed with fewer distractions from repetitive, unsatisfying and hum drum work. This may mean fewer lawyers on the whole but the satisfaction and creativity of the work will be much greater.

The only argument against employing AI from the ground up is that this will, of course, make it possible to carry on the confirmation bias of your predecessors…

"Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.”

For more information contact Mike Huggins at BCL Legal.

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