At the recent LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions’ InterAction Share event in London, I shared with delegates my insight and advice in relation to the rise of smart technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots in the legal ecosystem and how these technologies are being, and will be, deployed in the industry.
By addressing all of the above, it naturally led to my tackling the challenging question "what is the next legal frontier?"
It’s important to realise and understand that it is inevitable that the roles of lawyers, general counsel, marketers, business development, social media and CRM specialists etc. are going to change in light of such overwhelming technological advances.
The question that is hotly debated today is whether advanced technologies will support or replace lawyers. Well, the research speaks volumes. Note how we thought a few years ago compared to now. The answers to a recent survey in 2014/15 in relation to what law firm owners think about smart tech / AI today affecting their roles and businesses was very different compared to a handful of years ago back in 2010/11. The Altman Weil Flash Survey found that 35% of law firm leaders in the US could envision first-year associates being replaced by AI such as IBM’s Watson in the next five to ten years, with 47% predicting that fate for paralegals. Only 20% of these leaders are now sure that computers will never replace human practitioners. This is by no means a US-only phenomenon, with some firms in the UK and USA already seriously starting to make use of smart technology and AI.
But there’s always going to be a place for human subject matter experts (for now, anyway, maybe the next 10 years). Smart technology is not here to replace professionals yet, I say, but to make them better lawyers, or marketers etc. Smart technologies are forcing us to really use our brains and emotional intelligence. That’s a really good thing, surely?
Ideally, we need to work alongside ‘the machine’ as we’re not going to be able to halt its relentless march throughout the legal ecosystem. As a result of the AI infiltration and Armageddon, new roles for us all will evolve to the legal strategist, pricing agent-provocateur, social collaborator, social-human lawyer (i.e. the rainmaker), big data guru, intelligent e-personal assistant, iCyborg lawyer, RoboManager and so on. Some of these roles may not even be done by lawyers. For example, smart secretaries are now the bridge between lawyer and client in cultivating existing and new relationships. The role of CRM and marketing professionals will shift too – for example, intelligent relationship agent, relationship manager, the big data guru, the data artist, the data steward and such – supporting individual lawyers in tracking a contact through an individual’s entire life-cycle.
Against this backdrop, I was hugely pleased to witness Business Edge, the new business development module in Lexis InterAction, at the Share event.
In the second part of this blog, I’ll offer my opinion on the value that such smart technologies will provide to law firms.