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Are we going to be replaced by robots?

For years now, there has been talk that advances in technology will bring about the automation of the legal profession. But will this mean that we will be replaced by robots? Should we all be reconsidering our career choices, dusting off our CVs and getting back out in the job market?

Thankfully, our experience suggests that technology has not been reducing lawyer (or trainee) numbers, rather it is transforming the way in which we work and the services we provide to our clients.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems aim to reduce time spent by lawyers doing data-heavy, repetitive tasks that could otherwise be undertaken using computer algorithms and specifically designed software. The good news is that trainees, who often conduct data-heavy document review exercises, are likely to feel the benefit of these technological advances the most.

That being said, the automation of these sorts of tasks will benefit everyone. The margin for error is narrower, work can be done more quickly and time saved will allow lawyers to focus on analysing the problems which arise from these data results. More time spent delivering substantive advice will ultimately help the firm to add value to the service it provides to clients: a skill which cannot be offered by computers or robots.

At Pinsent Masons, we have a dedicated team of lawyers, technologists and knowledge engineers who are at the forefront of what has been coined the “fourth industrial revolution”. This team of specialists work on identifying and developing tech-products such as smart contracts, drafting questionnaires and developing due diligence review software, which assists lawyers to solve problems, brought to them by clients.

There are also opportunities for trainees to get involved in rolling out new technologies. I have recently contributed to the development of new data-comparison software for use in large-scale infrastructure projects. The finalised product will be used to review multiple thousands of data points across a number of documents before producing a report which will show different issues and trends with the data. This will be important as the data across the documents needs to be 100% the same.

For now, at least, it seems robots are not about to take over the legal profession. However, we must face the fact that AI is quickly becoming entrenched in everyday life. It would surely be foolish not to use it to our advantage in the delivery of an even better service to our clients?

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