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The Transformation of Legal Administration with AI — and Why Law Firms Have Nothing to Fear from the Change

Have you heard of the robot lawyer? Readers of any North American news publication can most likely say yes. The legal chatbot created by tech upstart DoNotPay caused a stir at the beginning of this year when its creator Joshua Browder tried to bring it to court. The robo-lawyer was designed to listen to court arguments over a smartphone, then provide advice to its human “mouthpiece” via an earpiece speaker.

Connor Atchison

It would have been the first of its kind, but Browder’s creation was banned from the courtroom almost universally, citing the argument that all parties needed to provide consent to being recorded to appear. DoNotPay ultimately recalled their legal bot after the threat of prison time, and the company was sued for misrepresentation.

Evidently, artificial intelligence (AI) didn’t make a good first impression on law firms. Even though the robot-lawyer failed to score points with the judges (it went back to fighting parking tickets), it wouldn’t be the first time AI entered the legal profession. However, in the case of legal administrators, the introduction of AI could be a positive change when used correctly.


Manual work is time consuming, and law firms have plenty of it. In 2008, the average attorney generated about 100,000 pieces of paper per year. Legal administrators are the ones who will process most of these pages, and although paper use might have declined since then, the number of legal documents has grown. This might explain why 91% of corporate legal departments are expecting a shift towards more technology — even though only a third of these departments say they’re prepared to keep pace with the trends.

For legal administrators, new technology presents an opportunity to make their work more efficient, more balanced and less routine. However, in terms of adopting the new tech, law firms have been reluctant to change. For lawyers, this makes sense: Ethical rules around AI in law are fuzzy, opposition to robo-lawyers is understandable, and only about half of legal professionals support the use of generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

However, for their administrative counterparts, today’s legal technology is a wonderful change. Administrative technology can support — not replace — administrative staff. Tasks like scanning documents for details, indexing client files and removing duplicates can save hours if done by a machine. To do so correctly, though, the human legal administrator will still need to play a crucial role.


Ethics might be fuzzy around “robot lawyers,” but for legal administrators, it might well be the new frontier. For example, 30% of law firms are looking to spend more on document management technology, and for good reason: Legal cases are becoming more complex and documents are getting more difficult to manage over time.

“Administrative technology can support — not replace — administrative staff. Tasks like scanning documents for details, indexing client files and removing duplicates can save hours if done by a machine.”

Legal administrators are taking on more work at the same time as budget cuts put pressure on the number of staff. When resources are stretched thin, new technology becomes necessary to meet demand. Just like the fax machine, printer or email address in the past, this technology won’t replace the human workforce — it will just save them some time. For the administrators, paralegals and other professionals who assist with the recordkeeping and document preparation at a firm, this tech can help them take the focus off paperwork and put it back on to more mentally demanding tasks.


Even if the legal practice halved its paper consumption since 2008, scanned documents still take time. If administrators are working under more than one lawyer, these documents can add up. Pages numbering into the hundreds (or thousands) stretch administrative teams thin, making mistakes, overtime or burnout more likely. This is not only inconvenient, it’s also costly — for both the firm and their team.

With expenses in law firms rising, the ability to take on more work in less time can mean more — not less — job security. Today’s legal administration tech uses AI to sort, index, remove duplicates and scan even unstructured files. This helps improve margins and boosts the number of clients that the law firm can take on.

Even using AI to index a client file so its components can be found more easily can save a large amount of time. Instead of spending hours sorting, removing duplicates or scanning a file, legal administrators can task a machine with the job and pick up another file. This leaves them more time to catch up on more specialized work, helps them do more each day and betters the law firm — and its team — over time.

The robo-lawyer may not have succeeded, but AI in the legal industry is here to stay. As we enter a new digital age, legal administrators don’t need to fear for the future of their work. Instead, they can work alongside AI tools to be better, faster and smarter — both in their jobs and over their career.