A more measured article than what we have seen lately regarding the so called ‘Robot Lawyers Thesis.’ I find it pretty funny that the NY Times Facebook link leads to the Click-Bait title but the final online version has the more measured title (see image above).
The article certainly has an Enterprise Law / Big Law undertone. If we focus on this subset of the market for legal services, there are a number of collective trends which together are transforming the market. It is the combined cocktail that is potent …
Here are five of them:
(1) Legal Outsourcing
(2) Insourcing and the Growth of Corporate Legal Departments
(3) Process Improvement (Lean / Six Sigma)
(4) Automation of Legal Tasks using A.I. (a.k.a. robot lawyers)
(5) Financialization of the Law aka #Fin(Legal)Tech
Plenty has been written about legal outsourcing, insourcing, and the growth of corporate legal departments and the application of process improvement methods (Lean / Six Sigma).
With respect to automation, it is curious to see the Times cite the Remus / Levy paper. At best, this paper is only relevant to the automation of the fraction of the work that is undertaken in Big Law (drawing from data from several years ago). They suggest an ‘automation rate’ of 2.5% per year. If that were to continue – this implies a rate for the decade of 25% just in Big Law alone. Again, this does not focus upon the other market dynamics highlighted above.
It is worth noting their data comes from a period before the implementation of #MLaaS (Machine Learning as a Service). Since its inception, #MLaaS has made A.I. tools far cheaper to custom build to problems. I have said recently that the best in legal tech has yet to be built (see slide 260).
So thanks to the NY Times for shedding light on this field. But lets remember the #RobotLawyers Thesis is only a small part of the puzzle.
As a matter of strategy, some element of the #LegalInnovation agenda should be part of the strategic portfolio of every legal organization (law firm, law school, corporate legal dept, etc.) Why? Because those who do so can increase their standing in the relevant market in question. Only those who use the newest and best tools available will thrive in an ever-changing market.
“It’s the alignment of tech and economics that is allowing all this stuff to start moving … The real roll-up of all this isn’t robot lawyers, its financialization, with law becoming an applied branch of finance and insurance” says Daniel Martin Katz, professor at Illinois Tech’s Chicago Kent College of Law.