Alternative Legal Careers

The traditional assumption has been that an individual graduating from law school will almost always enter private practice, climb the law firm hierarchy and reach the coveted status of equity partner. Why else would you go through the trouble of attending all those early morning constitutional classes, and the effort of being called to the bar? By many accounts, a sizeable number of lawyers are currently unhappy with private practice. Surveys conducted by the American Bar Association indicated that 24% of lawyers who passed the Bar in 2000 were no longer practicing law in 2012[1]. Surveys conducted by the International Bar Association indicated that 33% of lawyers under 40 were considering pursuing a different area of the law, while 20% were considering leaving the legal field altogether[2]. Fortunately, many lawyers can increasingly leverage their legal training to pursue alternative legal employment, including quasi-legal positions, alternative service providers including legal tech, ADR/mediation, policy work and education to name a few areas.

The first evolution in the shift away from private practice can be credited to the proliferation of ‘in-house’ counsel positions in the early 1990’s, created largely by banks and insurance companies to try and manage legal costs. Companies have continuously scaled up their in-house legal departments to manage many of the tasks that would otherwise be outsourced to private firms, leading to large in-house legal teams now being  the norm and not the exception. Departing the world of climbing the law-firm ladder, and the immutable law of billable hours, is a change many lawyers are happy to make.

The second evolution came with the growth of ‘quasi-legal’ positions in the mid 2000’s, most notably the creation of specialist positions in the e-Discovery space. With law firms looking to control litigations costs and employ processes to manage the potential thousands of documents that would eventually be turned over in the discovery process. Legally trained specialists were needed in this rapidly evolving e-Discovery space. This specialization allowed lawyers to focus on one key part of the litigation journey, in turn developing novel processes to increase efficiency and reduce client costs. Since this adoption, almost every large international law firm now has a dedicated e-Discovery department.

The legal profession is evolving, and the latest leap forward is the use of AI. Legal technology is advancing at an exponential rate and law firms will need to adapt to stay competitive. This growth in technology will also lead to a simultaneous growth in roles for people who have legal knowledge and the ability to embrace the growth of new technology and processes. ClearyX is at the heart of this evolution! For example, Due Diligence Analysts specialize in all aspects of transactional diligence, while Transaction Managers manage multiple projects simultaneously, both utilizing innovative processes and the use of technology.

It is clear that the profession will continue to grow and change, in turn will creating new alternative legal positions and new ways to leverage the power of a law degree. The future of law has never looked so bright!



Time for More AI and Automation in Legal Services

Automation and software technology has advanced leaps and bounds since the late 1990’s. This is most evident in the widespread use of software in the workplace and automation in the manufacturing process. However, professional service providers including law firms, accounting firms, banks and health care providers have been slow to innovate. In the past several years however, there has been a greater push for the use of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (machine learning in particular) to assist with tasks normally handled by a professional service provider.

Automation through the use of AI is slowing becoming widespread in the accounting field. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is now being used to complete repeated high volume tasks, allowing accountants more time for analysis and interpretation. AI is also being used as a tool for automatic auditing. A user can set items that need to be flagged, and the system will review large amounts of financial records and highlight areas of concern. As AI becomes more accurate and accountants become more accustomed to their use, we can expect greater use of AI and machine learning in the near future.

In the finance industry, AI technology is gradually being introduced to create predictive modelling which can, for example, automatically measure profitability and risk. As the technology advances, AI will be used to create more complex models, with less requirement for user feedback and greater accuracy.

The potential for the use of AI in medicine is immense. From early detection of diseases to managing patient data, AI can be implemented in a versatile manner, for use by different treatment providers or administrators. Currently, AI is being used to great effect in the field of diagnostic radiology, where AI is particularly suited for recognizing visual patterns. More hospitals are now using AI to aid in the interpretation of MRI and CAT scans, to detect tumors that could be missed by humans. For example, AI can be used to review mammography scans, reducing false positives which would otherwise require unnecessary biopsies. Algorithms can also be used to detect potentially fatal abdominal aneurisms, with enough accuracy for use in clinical practice. AI will only get smarter, faster and more accurate in the coming years. While not a replacement for radiologists who are trained medical doctors, AI will simply be a tool for more efficient analysis.

Automation in the legal field is long overdue. AI and machine learning can readily assist with high volume tasks, such as transactional due diligence, in a more accurate and efficient manner. A culture shift is coming, where law firms will need to innovate to offer greater value to clients and manage costs. As more clients become accustomed to the use of AI in transactions, there will be greater pressure on law firms to provide these services to their corporate clients.