Editorial: Human lawyers, rejoice

Law Times has features this week exploring legal innovation. It couldn’t be more timely. While lawyers may be concerned their expertise (and job prospects) will dim with the rise of innovations like artificial intelligence, there is no reason to fret quite yet. Protectionism — which can manifest in closed borders, closed economies or closed minds — has been known to stymie growth over time, not stoke it.

Law Times has features this week exploring legal innovation.

It couldn’t be more timely.

While lawyers may be concerned their expertise (and job prospects) will dim with the rise of innovations like artificial intelligence, there is no reason to fret quite yet. Protectionism — which can manifest in closed borders, closed economies or closed minds — has been known to stymie growth over time, not stoke it.   

Which is why there may be hope yet, notes Andrew Arruda, CEO and co-founder of ROSS Intelligence.

“AI systems will do as much as they can.

The human lawyer doesn’t get removed. In law, because our current system isn’t addressing the full market there is actually a lot of money out there right now,” he says.

Arruda’s right. I have heard practising lawyers lament that there seems to be a surfeit of graduates who cannot find stable careers within firms, and on the other hand, there are Ontarians decrying they cannot find the lawyers they need to take their cases for the amount they’re willing to pay.

Technology is a tool that cannot bridge this gap alone, but lawyers and firms that harness rapidly evolving tools will be better prepared for the coming swell.

The problems presented by technology do not appear to be abating.

“What lawyers are starting to do is to think about the customer not just as needing a legal service but as needing a solution or a wraparound service generally,” says Chris Bentley, who heads up the Law Practice Program at Ryerson and the incubator Legal Innovation Zone.

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