Artificial Intelligence is going to have a disruptive effect on the legal profession. The question is how soon, how much, and what areas of law come first. This kind of disruptive change builds up slowly, but once it hits a tipping point, it happens quickly.
Futurist Richard Worzel wrote an article titled Three Things You Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence that is worth a read. Here are some excerpts:
Every once in while, something happens that tosses a huge rock into the pond of human affairs. Such rocks include things like the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, written language, movable type, the telegraph, computers, and the Internet. These kinds of massive disturbances produce pronounced, remarkable, unexpected changes, and radically alter human life.
Artificial Intelligence is just such a rock, and will produce exactly those kinds of disturbances. We’re not prepared for the tsunami that AI is going to throw at us.
But now AI is becoming a reality, and it is going to hit us far faster than we now expect. This will lead to an avalanche of effects that will reach into all aspects of our lives, society, the economy, business, and the job market. It will lead to perhaps the most dramatic technological revolution we have yet experienced – even greater than the advent of computers, smartphones, or the Internet.
The legal profession seems to be particularly susceptible to early occupation by AIs:
“At JPMorgan Chase & Co., a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for thousands of hours. The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, does the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial-loan agreements that, until the project went online in June, consumed 360,000 hours of work each year by lawyers and loan officers.”
So, before June of 2017, lawyers and loan officers spent 360,000 hours a year interpreting commercial loan agreements for JPMorgan Chase. Since June, that specific kind of work has vanished.