When I explain to people the benefits of AI in the context of legal services, the single most common question always comes back to the threat to jobs. "Aren't you scared that you will be replaced by technology?" "Are you worried that, as a trainee, you're legal career is over before it has really even begun?" The answer has to be, unequivocally, "no". The true aim of any business seeking to implement AI in their legal services, if they expect to succeed, should be to improve the service and the benefit to the customer. Setting out to reduce overheads just so that the client receives a reduced invoice at the outcome of the matter, in my opinion, is never going to gain any traction. And we hear all too frequently from many of our customers that it is the service that attracts them, but it is our culture that sells them. Having a team at the core of a service who use technology to drive their own efficiency and increase the benefit to the customers is arguably going to be the winning formula; and the key to proving the formula is making sure that our lawyers and the lawyers of tomorrow are suitably prepared to embrace and champion the use of technology in law... I'd bet my job on it.
There is no question that artificial intelligence has the potential to replace jobs in law, but this fear of automation is not new. From the steam engine to the personal computer, technological improvements have always carried a threat to existing work methods. However, they also brought an increase in capacity, efficiency and economic return for those who adjusted to new service delivery models. Artificial intelligence will affect a variety of fields, but its impact on legal rights raises a particularly interesting question that every law school and firm in the country should be debating. At Vanderbilt, we’re working to prepare attorneys for a future that incorporates AI into their everyday legal work. After all, this isn’t a question of when. It’s a question of how, and how fast.