According to the Deloitte research referenced below, 2020 will be the tipping point for law firms to see a significant (114k) number of jobs become redundant to machines (apparently 31k jobs have already been replaced).
Having spent a significant amount of time in various law firms it is apparent that there needs to be some fundamentals in place to achieve automation.
The majority of this revolves around data. Beyond the more complex aspect of managing or storing big data the fundaments of tagging and recording data by fee earners will be crucial.Areas of the technology sector have been automated for sometime however there is still a struggle with accuracy due to data quality. This often happens due to misalignment of goals internally. I can imagine the incentive to start keeping a CRM up to date in a law firm as it will aid machines to assist with your job might not receive a lot of cooperation! The does research would suggest this would elevate a more skilled employee.
Fortunately this error in a technology firm is typically a stray marketing email inviting a current customer to participate in a free trial. Incorrect data quality in a law firm could be far more costly.
All four scenarios discussed in the research suggest foundations will need be in place. Page 4 does acknowledge the need for data and innovation and it will be interesting to watch successful developments. Several leading firms such as Linklaters, Dentons, Pinsent Masons and Riverview Law are already beginning to utilise the technology.
Peter Saunders, lead partner for professional practices at Deloitte, said that new technology means that more traditional, routine tasks can be automated by smart and self-learning algorithms capable of searching for documents for example. “Some firms are already making use of virtual assistants or e-discovery tools. However, there is more that the legal sector can do to use automation and technologies,” he said. “Our report shows that firms have already identified a mismatch between the skills that are being developed through education and those currently required in the workplace. Employers will need to look for lawyers who are not just technically competent, but who have a broader skill set,” he added. Critics have pointed out that the profession has been slow to adapt to technological change.