In the sold out second Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI) Artificial Intelligence in Legal Practice Summit, one question loomed large: how can the legal industry change to meet the expectations of clients and employees? How will legal practice change? Will the future be filled with self-service legal chatbots, automated documents and online courtrooms? Will data analytics dominate legal decision making and determine our appetite for risk management? Will all legal transactions be made using blockchain? Will law firm business models look more like start-ups? And how will all of this shape the future legal workforce?
The AI in Legal Practice Summit continued the tradition it began with its launch last year by providing a forum for open, constructive and creative discussion of how artificial intelligence is impacting all those working in the legal industry and focusing on how they can practically adapt and benefit. Hosted by the College of Law, the second AI Summit was attended by over 100 solicitors and barristers (in-house, government and private practice), bankers, academics, consultants, business analysts, software developers, operations managers, business managers, IT, innovation, legal aid and community legal centres reflecting the diverse expertise in the contemporary legal marketplace from all around Australia and New Zealand.
The opening plenary session met the question many lawyers are asking head on, with the topic, ‘Between AI and LegalTech, what’s really left for lawyers to do?’
“Technology is just a solution, a means of more efficient service delivery to clients,” said Caryn Sandler, Partner and Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer at Gilbert + Tobin. “More importantly, clients are asking for technology because demands on them are increasing.”
Marcus McCarthy, Principal of Nexus Law Group, agreed; technology is merely an aid to a good lawyer.
“Lawyering occurs in the zone of bespoke advice, of humanity. AI can’t work in this zone. The low value routine work is where AI will work,” said Marcus. “Lawyers can leverage these tools, skill up and get better at being human, having good relationships with their clients, and delivering solutions.”
“For young people, technology presents lots of opportunities,” said CLI Research Fellow Nicola Atkinson. The question, she suggested, lies in how the profession looks to develop its young lawyers. “How will this fit with the current speed of change in the industry? This might be a threat to their engagement. Young lawyers could become frustrated with the pace at which technology is taken up. But there is an opportunity in this new world to get back to the law.”