Automation is coming, and there are few industries in the world that stand to avoid being disrupted by its influence. Some jobs may be completely erased, like punch card operators in the mid-20th century, while others will likely be changed beyond recognition. But even if cars no longer require drivers, people will still need car accident lawyers, and there is a handful of evidence that lawyers will ride out the wave of coming automation with their jobs intact.
Lawyers Need to Be Creative
While much of the day-to-day work in the legal industry can seem fairly mechanical, being an effective lawyer requires an ability to think outside the box and apply different perspectives to an issue, sometimes taking approaches to an issue that might seem far-fetched or unorthodox. This resembles a larger trend in the conversation about automation, with many experts in agreement that creative, divergent thinking is the best guarantor of job security in the face of seemingly inevitable automation.
Clients Value Empathy and Experience
People value success and when choosing an attorney are likely to place a high value on someone who appears to win cases. But even then, when clients meet with their lawyers, the opportunity to explain themselves and feel like they are understood and being defended by someone who is on their side is very important to them. A major part of a lawyer’s job is to advocate for their client, and the client-facing side of business is one that computers simply may never do as well as people.
Jury Trials Mean Arguments
Jury trials are by no means the biggest or even most important part of a lawyer’s responsibilities, but they are important, especially to their clients. For high-profile cases the outcome of the case and the arguments presented can have incredible consequences. A human lawyer can read the room, make eye contact with a jury, and make the argument that would be most likely to sway a human jury. It’s especially important at the Supreme Court, where arguments can decide sweeping precedent that dictates the direction of laws for decades.
Justice is an Inherently Human Value
Some may argue that even judges are candidates for automation at some level, especially given the extraordinary ability of computers to be absolutely impartial. But the application of law was never an exact science – judges have wide latitude in their ability to decide how lenient or strict to be in their sentencing, and it’s a judgment that simply can’t be driven by data alone.
Laws are not infallible
Arguably the most important reason why the legal system should remain decidedly human-powered is the nature of the laws themselves and the intent behind them. Laws are created by people to serve their interests, and the implicit trust placed in the legal system functions on the assumption that everyone functioning within the system is doing their best, on some level, to ensure that the laws are fair and are being applied appropriately, and if they’re not – to change them. There is no objectively perfect set of legal statutes that everyone can agree on, and therefore no way an artificial intelligence could participate productively in the legal process.