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How Will Automated Legal Services Affect You?
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Summary: Technology is making formerly mundane legal tasks easier, but it is also taking over jobs. Should lawyers be worried? 

This month, Axiom announced that it had inked a five-year deal with Johnson & Johnson to provide contract management services. Axiom is a large provider of technology-enabled legal services (i.e. automation), and its Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Al Giles said that Axiom will apply “standardization, automation and process” to Johnson & Johnson’s global contracting function. This includes thousands of agreements in more than 10 languages.


Axiom’s announcement is on trend with what is happening in the workforce. Robotics are not only replacing cashiers and factory workers, but they are starting to take on attorney and paralegal duties. For instance, BakerHostetler uses the skills of a “digital attorney” named ROSS to do low-level attorney work. At the “Watson, Esq.” conference for law and artificial intelligence, ROSS’s co-founder Andrew Arruda said that other law firms were looking to follow BakerHostetler’s lead.

ROSS is an artificial intelligence program that can analyze billions of documents to find an answer. It also can include citations, track changes to laws that affect pending cases, and learn as it goes. ROSS is based off another IBM-powered machine called Watson, and its technology has advanced thanks to an investment from law firm, Dentons.

The people in the legal world most negatively affected by artificial intelligence right now is first-year associates and paralegals. However, a survey from 2015 found that some law firms would be interested in replacing second and third year attorneys with technology. The survey asked 320 firms that had a minimum of 50 lawyers if they would be interested in replacing associates with robotics in the next ten years. Thirty-five percent said they could imagine first year associates being replaced, 20 percent said they saw second- and third-year attorneys being replaced, and 47 percent believe paralegals will be eliminated.

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While those numbers are alarming, the legal world has not completely gone automated yet, and there are still jobs that robotics just can’t do. That means that there will always be work for excellent attorneys who have business and strong communication skills.

Harrison Barnes, Chief Executive Officer at BCG Attorney Search said, “Even with the spike in the adoption of artificial intelligence, attorneys will continue to be in demand. Their experience in many ways cannot be matched by technology.”


Do you think attorneys should be concerned about losing their jobs to technology? Let us know in the comments below. 


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