AI and the Future of Legal Work
By Jamy J. Sullivan
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way legal professionals around the world do their jobs. Listed as one of five technologies to keep an eye on in Robert Half’s Jobs and AI Anxiety report, AI will continue to help legal professionals improve client service and enhance productivity in the coming years.
Some workers worry that artificial intelligence will steal their jobs. But for the most part, AI is expected to benefit legal professionals by saving them time and taking over some of their more mundane tasks.
Here’s a look at how AI could reshape your legal job and what you can do to help future-proof your career.
AI’s impact on legal work
As employers continue to explore ways to utilize AI, legal professionals of all levels will increasingly rely on it to help with their jobs. Here are some of the many ways you can expect to see AI applied in the legal field (if you haven’t already, that is):
- eDiscovery. AI has been used for years in eDiscovery, especially in the early stages of case review. In the future, AI could go beyond data mining and predictive coding to become more integrated with the whole discovery process.
- Document preparation. Plenty of services can generate contracts using a smart template, but these systems still require a human to fill in the blanks. AI-based tools can automatically populate fields to generate documents that are error-free and ready to sign.
- Customer service. Responding to routine client questions like “What’s the status of my case?” or “Did you receive the contracts I sent?” can eat up valuable time. AI-powered chatbots can offer warm, personalized experiences that provide clients with the information and service they need, while allowing legal professionals to concentrate on other tasks.
- Digital coworkers. As AI becomes more sophisticated, some law offices will shift toward symbiotic computing, which means humans and AI systems will work together as partners. Each will count on the other to deliver results. While humans will remain in charge, their AI partners will be more like digital colleagues than today’s software tools.
Futureproofing your legal career
AI is expected to benefit legal professionals, but even positive transitions can come with growing pains. If you’re not prepared, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with new technologies. Here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the game:
- Follow tech trends. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace that isn’t expected to slow down. Closely monitor trends and innovations affecting the legal field, or risk getting left in the dust of digital disruption. Check out blogs, podcasts and industry publications to stay updated, and ping your professional network to find out how your peers use AI in their workflow.
- Get credentialed. Resumes with both legal and IT qualifications will turn heads. You don’t necessarily need certification in AI, which is an experimental field. But credentials related to programming or databases can help you stand out, as can math-related qualifications, especially those in statistics and analytics.
- Volunteer for training opportunities. Don’t wait for change to come to you. Take the initiative and ask to be assigned to digital transformation projects or pilot groups for new tech. You can also ask IT about training to bolster your skillset.
- Polish your soft skills. AI is still a long way from being able to do fundamentally human things, like thinking creatively or displaying empathy. Additionally, as technologies like AI shake up law practice management, legal teams may find themselves requiring top-notch tech and collaboration skills.
AI will impact your legal job whether you’re on board or not, so be prepared. Use it to your advantage, and AI could help propel your career well into the future.