The job market for attorneys in Los Angeles continues to be a good performer. However, Deloitte estimated that by 2036, more than 100,000 lawyers will be replaced by automation. But is there really a robot attorney army just around the corner?
No doubt, there are big investments being made on artificial intelligence. According to 2018 research conducted by International Data Corp., spending on cognitive and AI systems will reach $77.6 billion in 2022, more than three times the $24 billion forecast for 2018.
However, despite these forecasts, many in the legal and technology industries paint a much larger revolution that tends to be overblown. That’s not to say change isn’t already afoot. The competitive nature of legal practice means firms are often eager to adopt technology that will provide a competitive advantage.
That AI is changing the law is a good case study for how other industries may soon be similarly impacted.
Automated legal contract review firm LawGeex estimated there have been more than 25 new legal tech AI players emerging in the past year. These companies supposedly do everything. They provide analytics about judges. They analyze contracts. They draft legal papers that used to require human attorneys hundreds of hours of time to do.
So, while from a bird’s eye view nothing is changing, change is happening. In other words, The American Lawyer’s top 100 law firm rankings might stay the same, but how these firms are doing their work is changing.
As an example, AI-powered contract analysis allows attorneys to review significantly more contracts in less time and at a much higher level of accuracy. But this doesn’t necessarily mean firms now review the same number of contracts with fewer attorneys.
That change is up to the client and its counsel, not to so-called disruptive technologies.
Just because these technologies exist doesn’t mean it leads to adoption. It’s estimated in the current market, only about 2 percent of law firms currently use legal tech powered by artificial intelligence. This may
be because, like any industry, the legal world is subject to market forces that may prevent such a change. For example, most law firms are still structured around the billable hour setup. So, firms are not incentivized to adopt products that replace attorneys.
In addition, market adoption is often almost perfectly matched to the Bass Model, which offers a curve that predicts a slow initial adoption by the innovators within a group, followed by a sharp increase as the
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