The Future of Legal Workforce: Human Talent, AI and New Technology
How AI & New Technologies Are Changing the Game
As legal technology advances, law firms are becoming more efficient and improving client experiences. However, this also raises concerns about the future role of human talent in law firms. The legal workforce’s roles are changing due to established systems like cloud storage and newer innovations like generative AI.
Technology innovations have significantly altered how lawyers and law firm staff spend their time. These new solutions save time by automating mundane tasks, allowing staff to focus on high value tasks like serving clients and building strong relationships and changing the nature of junior roles as well. Additionally, staff will need to evolve and learn technology skills as AI and technology offerings increase.
Staff Can Focus on High Value Tasks
New technology systems can enable seamless collaboration and communication, both internally and with clients and other external stakeholders. For example, transitioning to the cloud allows for seamless integration between different systems, saving time and effort when sharing information sharing and working collaboratively. Advances in technologies like these allow lawyers to focus more of their time on high value tasks, deliver excellent results for clients and build strong relationships that technology cannot replace.
Innovative law firms are using technology to empower and free up people to do carry out these high value tasks. Traditionally, junior staff handled tasks like entering data, doing long e-discovery processes and drafting repetitive documents. This model allowed senior attorneys to concentrate on more strategic work. However, thanks to recent advances in data science and widespread cloud adoption, AI innovations can automate these repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Advances in AI Change the Nature of Junior Roles
As law firms are hit by the boom in AI technologies and automation, significant time efficiencies can be realized on tasks which have traditionally taken up long hours of paralegals’ and junior associates’ time. From eliminating the scope for error in manual data entry to identifying relevant e-discovery evidence within seconds, AI significantly cuts the hours of work firms need from paralegals and junior associates. By speeding up these repetitive, manual tasks, their jobs will also be much more analytical and data driven.
AI does not eliminate the need for human intelligence – instead it creates new specific tasks around checking accuracy, an imperative for law firms to establish robust ethical and security policies. Law firm staff will need to stay up to speed on technology and to work in alliance with these emerging solutions. While the law firm of the future may need fewer junior staff, they will need a whole new set of technology skills, including a strong understanding of AI, automation and how to use new systems accurately and effectively.
Investment in Technology Upskilling for Staff
In the current environment, law firm staff must engage in continuous technology upskilling. A technologically literate workforce will not only be able to work more efficiently and more accurately but will also further engage clients by understanding their own technology concerns, leveraging technology and data to deliver added value on client work and building personalized relationships.
Additionally, as increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats arise, staff will be better prepared to prevent and respond to potential attacks. Continuous learning and development is needed to follow the pace of innovation in today’s market.
While new technology skills will empower staff to efficiently utilize the new legal technologies firms are adopting, their roles will shift towards the tasks which humans are much better equipped to carry out. Decision-making, judgment, creativity and relationship building are some of the areas where human intelligence excels, and that generative AI is unlikely to replace in the near future. In addition to upskilling on legal technology, cultivating these skills among law firm staff will be a key differentiator.
Recruiting Technology Talent Provides Firms Necessary Expertise
Beyond having a technologically literate workforce, law firms need access to staff or advisors with technology expertise to steer their strategies and to implement technology solutions such as AI. Many firms are seeking to recruit technologists to their leadership teams, who have the necessary expertise to drive technology strategies which empower staff and add value for clients. Recruiting these technology leaders or seeking third-party digital advisory guidance can be fruitful to bring blue-sky thinking, new creative ideas and to drive firm strategy in a competitive market.
Experts in technology fields such as data science, IT infrastructure, cloud, AI and machine learning, can support law firms to implement seamlessly interoperable systems and harness data to their advantage to deliver better services, make efficiencies and build stronger client relationships.
While technological innovations are significantly changing the nature of law firm staff’s roles, human intelligence is needed to steer technology strategies, deliver added value for clients, and maintain strong ethical and security standards. AI and automation may enable firms to reduce some junior associates’ hours, but it will also see roles shift towards requiring greater technological and analytical skills. Staff will need to keep up to speed, and law firms will need to seek expertise from technologists whose high-in-demand skills will drive the strategies of the law firm of the future.
Let Us Guide You Forward
Cherry Bekaert’s Digital Advisory practice is prepared to bring advanced tools and expertise to help you not only implement AI innovations but also to guide your firm on the ever-present need for human intelligence. If you are interested in tapping into the power of AI, we would love to help you ensure you have a strong foundation and strategy in place so that tools like AI can succeed. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help your firm establish a successful AI roadmap to add client value.
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