AI as decision maker as lawyers face fast-changing world

Our regular WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing examines the potential impact of technological change on the legal profession over the next ten years as The Law Society forecasts a disturbing future

It is now widely accepted that the legal workplace is braced for major change in the face of emerging technologies. But just how far-reaching will be the impact of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and innovations on how law firms operate in the future and the type of challenges legal teams will face?

A clue to the likely scale of transformation has come in a new report from The Law Society in the UK, as part of its Future Worlds 2050 horizon-scanning project. This first release of its futures research covers the period 2020-2030 and predicts a greater use of technology in law firms, with a changing skills profile in the talent base. There will be new entrants to the legal market and traditional law practices will be challenged by multi-disciplinary models.

‘AI systems will reach the point where machines have a vote on the boards of large companies…’

AI will be used in the judicial system and trust in the decision-making of AI systems will reach the point where machines have a vote on the boards of large companies, predicts The Law Society. There will be a mass increase in ‘the use of exascale computers, with unprecedented processing power and memory, to run societal problem simulations’. Smart 3D printers will become ubiquitous, supplying needs from furniture and electronics to human organs, and there will be an increase in social platforms dedicated to preserving ‘fake-free’ information and privacy.

If all this doesn’t sound scary enough, The Law Society presents both utopian and dystopian visions for the use of technology in relation to the legal profession over the next ten years. In the positive scenario, technology fills resource gaps in sectors that have shortages of skilled staff, and supports job creation and new roles. AI is used to augment human skills and there is sufficient regulation in the tech space that individuals are informed and safeguarded during their interactions with machine systems. Access to technology is equitably distributed across society and does not further entrench existing inequalities.

However a much bleaker picture is also presented where regulation is failing to protect citizens, and access to advanced technology is available only to those who can pay. In this scenario, the application of technologies, including AI and automation, radically reduces the demand for a human workforce. Highly compensated and creative professions are not immune to being replaced by AI systems. There is a mass rise in unemployment and individuals cannot reskill fast enough.

Some of the findings in the report from The Law Society echo a new WORKTECH Academy study of the future legal workplace with BVN Architects and Cushman & Wakefield, which identifies technology as a key disruptor in the sector.

WORKTECH Academy was a contributor to The Law Society report, ‘Images of the Future Worlds Facing the Legal Profession 2020-2030’, which can be accessed here.

Work From Anywhere

Emerging technologies are the enablers and facilitators of new ways of working, particularly when it comes to a ‘Work From Anywhere’ model. A new event presented by WORKTECH Events called Work From Anywhere explores the new technologies which are championing a more flexible approach to work. This virtual event will explore themes from cloud-based offices to app-centric workspaces and the future of hybrid meetings. The WORKTECH Work From Anywhere event on 7 July 2021 will showcase the latest innovative thinking from global workplace leaders, alongside best practice and new research in the field. Find out more here.

Discussing the destination office

As a hybrid world of work emerges, there is much debate about the future role of the office within a more complex landscape of work. One of the concepts currently gaining traction is the idea of the ‘destination office’ – the office reimagined as a venue of choice for employees seeking higher value interpersonal work such as training, mentoring, collaboration and innovation. In the first of a Schneider Electric podcast series on the smart building, WORKTECH Academy director Jeremy Myerson discusses the challenges in designing the destination office with Kas Mohammed, VP for Digital Energy at Schneider Electric. Listen to their discussion here.

Festival season is here

While many festivals have been called off this summer due to the pandemic, one festival is standing its ground. WORKTECH Events is hosting a virtual WORKTECH Festival month in August, featuring some of WORKTECH’s most innovative thinkers across the future-of-work sector. Speakers from NASA, Financial Times and London Business School – among many more – will share their latest insights on the future of workplace from 2-30 August. Sign up to the event here and receive an early bird rate until the 9 July. Find out more about the event here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our virtual platforms. This edition is posted 30 June 2021.
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