In the Future, Lawyer Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” Might be a Robot

I recently read a 2013 oft-cited Oxford study that estimated lawyers only have a 3.5% chance of losing their jobs due to technology because “most computerization of legal research will compliment the work of lawyers in the medium term.”

How times have changed.

According to an article from Tech Insider, The New York Times reported 40% of 2014 law school graduates failed to find jobs “that required them to pass the bar exam.” One of the driving factors behind this phenomenon is technology startups in the legal field.

“Even for what you think of as highly-trained, highly-skilled, intuitive personable professions, it is still true that the vast majority of the work is routine,” Kaplan told Tech Insider.

Lawyers, for example, may conjure up images of formidable debators pontificating in front of grand juries, but the reality is much more mundane.

“The vast majority of activities that lawyers are engaged in are straightforward drafting of contracts, putting together things like apartment leases, real estate deals, pre-trial discovery,” Kaplan said. “It’s these very tasks that make the profession susceptible to automation.”

Startups are already springing up to take on these time-consuming and expensive chores. Kaplan lists just a few of them in his book — Judicata uses statistical methods called machine learning and natural language processing to automatically find relevant court cases.

Fair Document allows users to fill out forms to create documents for, say, estate planning for only $995 — a “service that might otherwise typically cost $3,500 to $5,000,” for a lawyer to do.

Another contributing factor in the decline of employment for lawyers is the recession, and to make things even worse, there is now “software that can do tedious document review projects that used to require an actual human” — resulting in fewer jobs for law students with massive student loan debts.

Obviously this trend will not eliminate the legal field or attorneys completely, it just requires lawyers and law firms to adapt to the impending wave of the future.

Are you prepared? What are you and your law firm doing to adapt?

Let us know in the comments below.