The first hint of AI in the legal profession came in the 1970s with the arrival of on-line access to information on US laws and legal precedents (Westlaw and LexisNexis), Now there are over 40,000 databases from about 70 countries (including China) with sophisticated search algorithms.
Today, AI is being used to bypass lawyers by creating simple legal documents (like wills and uncontested divorce paperwork), to fight traffic tickets, and, with much greater sophistication, to anticipate legal rulings. Blockchain will soon start to reduce the demand for trusted third-party legal services.
Employment in law firms has been reducing for decades, as the need for support services (such as document drafting and delivery, and research) has diminished or can be handled more expeditiously by more senior lawyers. As in other professions, there is a growing problem in the development of experienced lawyers, with fewer juniors available to be assigned significant work, and to make the supervised mistakes that will teach them the wisdom that current senior lawyers have gained from their own mistakes.
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