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Artificial intelligence to change the future of legal work

'The legal market is going to change dramatically,' warns Karl Chapman

7 January 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

New technologies must be leveraged by the legal industry to drive advances in its efficiency and effectiveness, Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law, has said.

Speaking with Managing Partner, he suggested that the legal industry will be transformed just as the agricultural and car production industries have been in the past.

"The law is no different from any other sector - it is subject to natural advances in technology and efficient processes and ways of doing things better," he said.

"Around 90 per cent of the population was involved in agriculture before and now around 3 per cent are involved in it and we produce more food - that's because of automation technology. And, if you look at the way cars are manufactured, there used to be people on assembly lines, now a lot of it is driven by robotics."

While concerns may be raised about the risk of lawyers being replaced by robots, Chapman believes that lawyers will always be needed - provided that they can adapt to the changing times.

"Is there going to be a requirement for legal work in future? Yes. Is some of that legal work going to be done in a different way? Absolutely. Are we going to see lawyers in the future? Of course - lawyers aren't going to go away. But, like every industry, it will restructure, and rightly so, it's about time!"

Continued Chapman: "The legal market is going to change dramatically. Maybe there will be same number of people employed in legal, but the structure of it will be entirely different in terms of the mix of paralegals, solicitors, barristers and so on.

"I don't think it's a question of a threat to livelihoods if everybody across every part of the economy needs to embrace and harness technology and evolve and change with it. Those that evolve and change with it will be highly successful, and those that don't will not."

He argues that, in order to survive, law firms will need to ensure their operating models are more closely aligned with the needs and approaches of client organisations.

So, what will successful law firms look like in future?

"They will be run as businesses - they won't be run as partnerships; their work will be largely fixed priced; they will have a significant emphasis on people, processes and technology; and they will have a significant investment in research and development. These are things which historically have not happened in partnerships because they distribute all profits at the end of each year," commented Chapman.

"I think the future is really clear and many law firms will adapt to it, but some won't."




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