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The future of law in the age of robot lawyers and blockchain technology

By John Alber, Futurist, International Legal Technology Association

23 October 2015

The exponential growth of computing power means that great change is imminent in the legal sector. When we look back on this period in 20 or 30 years' time, I expect we will agree that the most significant metric underlying the transformation of legal practice will have been the cost per unit of processing power. Not profits per partner. Not margin. Not any number of other things we might measure.

Most of the talk about increasing computing power has to do with robot lawyers. Some lawyers imagine machine-learning platforms like IBM Watson taking over large swathes of law practice. Many more lawyers respond to such ideas with disdain. In much the same manner that pilots once said that computers would never be able to land airplanes - that too much subtle human judgement was required - lawyers dismiss the proposition that their judgement can be automated.

Of course, t...

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