The legal profession is known for its complexity, rigorous research, and intense documentation. As of the first quarter of 2023, there were approximately215,400 people working as solicitors or lawyers in the United Kingdom compared with 203,900 in the previous quarter.However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is beginning to reshape the landscape of legal practice. AI technologies are not only streamlining many routine tasks but also raising questions about how they will affect the future of legal jobs.
Legal Research and Document Review
One of the most significant impacts of AI on legal jobs is within the domain of legal research and document review. AI-powered software can work through vast amounts of legal documents, statutes, case law, and other sources in a considerably shorter time period than it would take a human researcher. This automation reduces the workload for legal professionals and allows them to focus on higher-level tasks, such as formulating legal strategies.
AI can also be used for predictive analysis, which can help lawyers assess the anticipated outcome of cases. Machine learning algorithms can analyse historical case data and identify patterns, enabling attorneys to make more informed decisions. This can be particularly valuable in litigation and dispute resolution, where predicting the potential success of a case is crucial.
Contract Review and Management
The legal profession often involves the creation and review of contracts. AI tools can review contracts for discrepancies, inconsistencies, and potential legal issues. They can also help manage contracts by sending reminders for renewals, amendments, or termination dates. This not only reduces the risk of errors but also allows legal professionals to spend time on other tasks for which AI may not be essential.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
Many law firms are implementing AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants to handle routine client inquiries, schedule appointments, and perform other administrative tasks. This enhances the client experience, providing them with answers they may need, whilst also freeing up time where legal professionals can work on higher priority matters.
Ethics and Accountability
While AI is constantly growing in numerous industries, including the legal industry, it also has its faults. AI tools can also raise ethical and accountability concerns. Legal professionals must ensure that AI systems are used responsibly and that they are held accountable for any mistakes made by these systems.
Changing Skill Sets
As AI becomes more integrated into the legal profession, the skills required for legal professionals are evolving. Today's lawyers must be technologically literate and able to work effectively alongside AI systems.
The Human Element
Despite the growth of AI in the legal field, there are many aspects of legal practice that require human judgment, empathy, and creativity. Legal professionals will continue to play a critical role in advising and representing clients, especially in complex and high-stakes legal matters.
AI is undoubtedly changing the landscape of the legal profession. It is automating routine tasks, enhancing legal research, and improving efficiency. According to a Deloitte study, around 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036 due to the introduction of AI.However, the human element in law, including ethical decision-making and client relationships, remains essential. As AI becomes more integrated into the legal field, legal professionals will need to adapt and acquire new skills to work effectively alongside these technologies. The future of legal jobs is likely to be a blend of human expertise and AI assistance, creating a legal profession that is more efficient, accurate, and accessible for all.