AI is undoubtedly going to impact the work a solicitor does and will certainly limit the amount of "grunt work" that is so familiar to those who have experienced or are coming through the grass roots level of the profession; but if we take a lot of the commentary on this topic at face value, then we are seemingly running the risk that AI will become a prohibitive barrier to entry into the profession.
Teaching and training establishments have a responsibility to our successors to prepare them for the profession they are about to enter. There needs to be a noticeable shift in the subject matter of a prospective lawyer's education which introduces them to the tools being introduced into everyday practice and the way in which they are used. Incidentally, as the amount menial or lower level work reduces, new trainees are going to be thrown in at the deep end and will be expected to have a deep understanding of the complex legal issues that their predecessors learned over a more protracted length of time.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the education system will develop to address this need or indeed, if they will develop at all. It seems to me that the advent of AI in law will open the door for legal apprenticeships to lead the way in nurturing young lawyers as it exposes them to real life practice from day one and gives said trainees a head start on developing their deep understanding of complex legal issues.
For experienced solicitors, AI is likely to act as an insightful assistant, processing data and reviewing documents. This makes tasks quicker, reducing costs for both law firm and client, as well as helping to avoid key pieces of information being overlooked. Watson-style systems also provide data-driven answers to questions, so advice is based less on a solicitor's personal perspective of the law... Perhaps for more junior solicitors and paralegals, the outlook is less positive. By 2030, artificial intelligence is anticipated by Jomati Consultants to take over the predictable and routine tasks that are usually delegated to paralegals, resulting in human roles being replaced by machines. Even legal drafting of some documents is now possible using machine learning. The good news is that those who do obtain paralegal roles will have more interesting tasks, as the more routine ones are automated.