Aspiring lawyers go through a nearly universal pipeline on their journey to and beyond passing the bar exam. Undergraduate students across the country view law as the field to successfully combine a passion for debate and social progress. Movies and TV shows abound with lawyers fighting the good fight in David vs. Goliath fashion.
However, too often the crushing burden of student loans and demands of everyday life force lawyers into the lucrative but morally ambiguous work of defending big corporate clients. These lawyers often want to do more pro bono, civil rights, and nonprofit work. However, for many of the best legal professionals there’s rarely enough time to balance making a living with advocating for progressive causes.
Attorney IO wants to solve that problem by unleashing the enormous productivity gains of artificial intelligence (AI) on the legal community. By automating away much of the drudgery of legal research, Attorney IO can free up lawyers to concentrate on the more creative and empathetic aspects of the practice of law.
Artificial intelligence is in the beginning stages of taking the world by storm. A Deloitte Insight report published in 2016 said “profound reforms” are likely to occur in the legal sector over the next decade. The report forecasted that nearly 40 percent of jobs in the legal sector could ultimately end up being automated. The New York Times reports that more than three in four Americans expect AI to “fundamentally change how the public works and lives in the coming decade.”
As counterintuitive as it might seem to lawyers, AI might be the best thing to happen to the profession in decades. While lawyers fiercely compete for the latest big corporate client, there is an enormous quantity of work to be done in the public interest that is currently being largely ignored. Many public interest lawyers report substantially greater life satisfaction than corporate attorneys. However, the often-enormous fees associated with big corporate clients can drown out motivations toward making positive impacts on the world.
As large corporations increasingly insist that lawyers use AI to improve efficiencies (and cut billable hours), it will create a vacuum that legal professionals can fill with genuinely rewarding public interest work. There is no shortage of opportunities to make a difference in this space, which currently has far more cases than attorneys who have the time to take them.
Likewise, the nuance of legal research is often a task delegated to younger associates and happily avoided by partners. Many such partners prefer the strategic, creative, and broad-strokes lawyering to finding needles in the massive haystacks that is legal research. By delegating much more of this legal research to machines, lawyers can add value to clients in a much more personally satisfying way.
Ultimately, lawyers must adapt to the coming storm of new legal technologies. Those who do are likely to experience increased professional satisfaction, a greater ability to make a difference for worthy causes, and fading memories of the chores involved with their least favorite legal tasks.