“As information technology advances, the legal profession faces a great disruption.”
In Machines v. Lawyers Professor John O. McGinnis outlines the five key areas of legal practice that are under threat of disruption by ‘machine intelligence’:
- legal search
- legal forms
- legal memos or briefs
- legal analytics (to displace lawyers’ hunches)
These are the basic areas of work that have built up the skills of young lawyers for generations, and which have provided law firms with a steady income. As these tasks become automated, the real question arises: do we need so many lawyers? And, if we do need them, then how do we build up their legal skills post-law degree? How can a law firm ensure good revenue?
It also raises some interesting questions about legal expertise for computer programmers – lots of changes ahead in the jobs free future.
Certainly it is food for thought for the legal community.
Professor McGinnis ends his article on an optimistic note for layers though:
“So long as there is law, however, we will need lawyers to offer interpretations of difficult texts and to smooth legal difficulties in the most important transactions.“
* Professor John O. McGinnis is the George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law at Northwestern University School of Law