Is Artificial Intelligence going to steal your job?
The Law Society made a bold statement that by 2030 ‘everyone [will have] a “free” lawyer at their disposal, similar to Siri.’ I ask Siri for restaurant recommendations all the time, everyone does it. But how do you feel about asking your phone for legal advice on drafting a contract for your business? Are you more likely to trust a computer or a human?
AI in the legal sector today
AI has been used by law firms for a while now, especially for things like due diligence reviews or drafting standard contracts. In comparison to a human solicitor, AI can check for any missing clauses in an agreement or scan documents for spelling errors more quickly and accurately. When time is money, it makes sense to use AI for some tasks and let lawyers focus on their interactions with clients or more complex issues.
Impact on the legal job market
It is normally junior legal professionals who assist in investigating and collating claims. The price of AI systems is often substantially smaller than expenses related to the employment of paralegals or trainees. In terms of business strategy and generation of profit, it is hard to blame law firms for choosing to invest in AI. On the other hand, favouritism of AI over humans will have a drastic impact on the job market. Many aspiring lawyers may be discouraged from entering the legal profession in the first place if they know that many law firms will opt for cheaper AI to do their job anyway.
Stolen jobs or stolen candidates?
Clearly, AI can be a great tool for solicitors to use for mundane tasks, but law firms must be careful when adapting AI systems. AI should be treated as a support tool for human solicitors and not as an alternative to those positions altogether. Otherwise, in the short term, AI will indeed steal junior legal vacancies but eventually, something unexpected might happen. I believe that as AI discourages people from entering the legal profession, we will actually face a shortage of candidates and not a shortage of legal jobs in the future.
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