Summary: In a recent webinar, leading economist Daniel Susskind offered insights on what changes the legal profession should expect in the future and what role technology and AI will play.
Original author and publication date: JD Supra – February 4, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Are human lawyers something from the past? We will soon see.
From the article:
The legal profession faced down seemingly endless changes this past year, and many people are understandably wondering what’s in store for the future. In a recent webinar sponsored by Onit and titled The Future of the Legal Profession, leading economist Daniel Susskind tackled exactly that question, offering insights on what changes the industry should expect in the future, what role technology and AI will play and much more.
A Tale of Two Futures
Susskind envisions two possible futures for the legal profession, both rooted in technology: one that’s simply a more efficient version of the current profession, and another in which technology actively displaces professionals.
In the first, today’s professionals continue to incorporate more technology to streamline and optimize the traditional ways they’ve worked, changing practices that may have been in place for several decades. In the second, technology isn’t just streamlining and optimizing traditional work practices, but fully replacing professionals with increasingly capable systems and machines. In the short term, these two divergent futures will develop in parallel. However, in the long term, Susskind expects the second future to dominate due to its greater efficiency and more effective problem-solving abilities.
How Technology Affects Professions
Professions evolved in modern society because no one was capable of doing everything, and therefore specialists – lawyers, doctors, educators, etc. – were needed to solve common challenges that people couldn’t solve on their own. Each profession became a gatekeeper for a unique body of knowledge.
Technology has been changing all that in recent years. Today, institutions are using technology to solve problems that were traditionally only solved by specific professionals. For example, in the case of law, three times as many disputes are resolved each year on remediation platforms without traditional lawyers than are filed in the legal system. Other technologies are similarly replacing hundreds of thousands of hours of traditionally billable time by addressing discrete legal tasks.
The Future of Legal Work
We won’t be seeing robot lawyers any time soon, but we will see changes. Rather than eliminating entire jobs, technology will likely displace humans from particular tasks and activities, while making others more valuable and more important for humans to perform.
Technology is a story not of mass unemployment, but of mass redeployment, changing the tasks and activities lawyers will be expected to perform in carrying out their work.