What Are First Year Associates to Do After Computers Replace Them?
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Summary: Artificial intelligence is advancing to a point that many can conceive of computers taking the place of basic legal tasks that paralegals and some first-year associates perform.

Just as predicted in the epic movie Back to the Future, lawyers may be out the window, or at least paralegals and first-year associates may be get replaced. With continual advances in technology, computers will soon be able to complete basic legal tasks, making paralegals and possibly even first-year associates obsolete.


A survey was conducted to see if law firms felt the same way. The survey asked 320 firms that had a minimum of 50 lawyers if they could imagine replacing first-year associates with a form of artificial intelligence in the next ten years.

Of the firms asked, 35 percent responded that they envisioned that as the future. In a similar survey four years ago, only 25 percent saw AI replacing first-year associates. The surprising part of the survey – 20 percent also see second- and third-year attorneys being replaced and 47 percent believe paralegals will be eliminated.

Over a third believes this is the future of AI and the legal field, but sees it taking more than ten years to happen. Only 20 percent think humans will never be replaced by a form of AI. Unfortunately for that 20 percent, AI is already making its way into the field.

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Backs Univ. of Toronto’s Robot” href=”” target=”_blank”>Dentons and others are working with a program called ROSS to handle US bankruptcy matters. Latham & Watkins is testing out the IBM Watson computer.





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