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Are Jobs in the Legal Industry at Risk due to AI? How to Take Advantage of AI.


Artificial intelligence (AI) has developed rapidly in recent years. The idea of AI becoming a part of our everyday reality is no longer a far-fetched fantasy. On the contrary, the utility of AI in many job sectors and even in daily life is becoming all too real for many people.

AI is threatening the security of many jobs, including some in the legal industry. A recent economics report by Goldman Sachs estimated that 44% of legal work could eventually be automated by AI. As employers consider incorporating AI into their systems, it is important to consider the technology’s limitations.

Which Legal Jobs May Be At Risk?

Working in the legal industry involves a lot of tasks that are repetitive and rule-oriented. Many legal jobs are time-consuming and require large amounts of information to be processed. These factors all make the industry susceptible to AI automation, which thrives in the completion of rule-based tasks that humans would consider tedious.


One of the biggest strides in AI development has been toward language processing. Developers are constantly coming up with deep learning architectures to train AI models to understand and use language more naturally. AI is equipped with increasingly complex learning structures that give depth to its interpretations. Predictive analytics, for example, allows an AI model to analyze information for patterns in order to make moderate predictions.

Considering such advancements, it is not infeasible for AI to be increasingly used to review legal documents and conduct research—tasks that are normally completed by paralegals. Document organization, data extraction, and compiling information are all tasks that could be handled by an AI. However, there is a human level of critical thinking central to paralegal work that AI has not yet achieved.

Patent Attorneys

While AI models may excel at consuming and summarizing vast amounts of information, it is still a long way away from being able to make interpretations and judgments that match a human depth of understanding. For this reason, experts believe that lawyers are largely safe from becoming obsolete.

However, the situation is riskier for some types of lawyers than it is for others. Working in patent law, for example, involves a lot of patent searching and identification of infringement. Such work could, in theory, be effectively automated by AI, which can conduct searches very effectively.

Junior Associate Attorneys

Junior lawyers are often responsible for handling tedious tasks in order to free up a senior lawyer’s time to handle other work. A junior lawyer’s document analysis work is susceptible to automation, as are their administrative and data-collection tasks. An AI could complete such tasks much more quickly than a human could.

Document Review Attorneys

The work of document review attorneys could also become largely automated. Such attorneys review documents prior to a court case in order to highlight and summarize relevant and important information. AI technology can analyze large amounts of information quickly. However, while they are able to evade human error, AI models are still capable of missing critical information and making their own errors.

Contract Attorneys

When it comes to contract management tasks, AI could be an effective tool. It is able to review contracts and find relevant data within them more quickly than human eyes can. We are a long way away from relying on AI solely to manage contracts without human judgment, but AI could feasibly reduce the workload of contract attorneys, which could reduce the overall demand for their services.

Researchers and Law Clerks

There is no doubt that AI can be a useful research tool. It could find relevant laws, regulations, and statutes quickly. As AI algorithms develop, AI programs could become more accurate in their research than traditional legal research methods have been.

What Are The Limitations of AI?

As we confront the potential current and future impact of AI on legal employment, it is important to remember that, while the technology is exciting, new, and rapidly advancing, it is very far from achieving a human level of complex reasoning. AI reasoning exhibits several major shortcomings that affect its ability to effectively do the jobs of humans in the legal industry:

Inability To Explain Processes

One known challenge that AI developers have been unable to resolve is that AI models act as a “black box” of information. While they are able to make decisions based on gathered information and patterns, they are unable to explain their internal decision-making process. While a human contract attorney could lead contract negotiations between parties, an AI would be largely unable to explain its thinking and reasoning enough to be able to communicate well with contractual parties.

Failure To Understand Context

Some experts predict that paralegal jobs will be among the first to be replaced by AI technology. However, paralegal work involves more than just analyzing data. Paralegals often act as a point person between lawyers and clients. As such, empathy and the ability to confer a level of emotional support are key to performing the job.

Paralegals and other legal professionals must also achieve a deep contextual understanding of the material they are analyzing and translating for lawyers and clients. AI lacks the ability to understand contextual nuances, especially when it comes to human experience.

Lack of Creativity

AI technology is undeniably impressive in its ability to analyze data, summarize documents, and recognize patterns. However, it does not have the ability to generate original ideas. Human imagination and creativity allow lawyers and other legal professionals to problem-solve more effectively. An AI model might be able to generate solutions based on existing data and patterns, but it would not be able to use abstract thought to come up with new or innovative solutions.

What Does The Future Of AI In The Legal Industry Look Like?

It is easy to become alarmed by rapidly developing AI and its implications in the legal industry and other fields. It takes time to get used to the idea that an algorithm can do portions of our work. However, the future of AI in law is probably not replacing humans. Human judgment, creativity, and experience will likely never become obsolete. It would be unwise to attempt to replace legal professionals with even the most advanced algorithms.

Instead, professionals should consider the possibility of utilizing AI to enhance their work. AI is a powerful tool but it is far from perfect. If used properly, it could reduce a human professional’s workload and help improve their efficiency. Using AI to enhance one’s work could be a great advantage, especially as trends toward AI applications progress.

At OnPoint, we know that keeping abreast of trends that affect our attorney clients is an important part of providing the best litigation support possible. Feel free to contact OnPoint Legal Nurse Consulting at 610-520-9350 to schedule a consultation today.


Kimm Ebersole, MHA, BSN, RN
Business Development

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