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Is the law at an AI tipping point?

Here are a couple of frustrating coincidences. Yesterday I had two meetings. First at my daughter’s old school where they draft me in to talk about journalism. One young woman asked me about working in the legal profession and I had to confess I knew naff all, never having done it, but a lot of automation was coming into play very quickly. In the afternoon I had a coffee with Intelligent Sourcing contributor Mark Lewis, who has contributed the legal column to our next issue.

So of course this morning I see this report from Legal Cheek, and naturally it is all about how legal processes are reaching a tipping point in terms of artificial intelligence. I could have shown it to the woman yesterday. I could have checked its contents with an actual practitioner. But with my usual sense of timing, I was unable to do either (and there’s no excuse other than I’d never heard of the publication before, the article itself is a week old).

Essentially a former Clifford Chance partner is now saying that the legal profession is likely to be upended by the end of next year. Certainly at Intelligent Sourcing dinners we’ve had members of the legal profession and AI specialists saying robotics and AI are going to start performing the tasks currently done by juniors.

So here’s the question to which I’ve never had a satisfactory answer. If lawyers, and indeed accountants (of whom the same thing has been said) are going to start getting the junior work automated, then it follows that there will be fewer juniors entering the profession.

So where is the next generation of seniors supposed to come from? Call me old-fashioned but if there are no trainees you’re going to be hard pressed to find anyone experienced within a few decades as all the avenues through which people might gain experience are shutting themselves down.

And on that pessimistic bombshell, have a good weekend. The next issue of Intelligent Sourcing should be out by this time next week – if you’re not a subscriber here’s the link to become one.

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