How susceptible are legal jobs to computerisation?

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With automation and artificial intelligence becoming increasingly large parts of modern-day technology, many people are worried that their jobs may be at risk of being taken over by a machine. Many jobs are simply outside the scope of what a computer can do, while others are greatly assisted and improved by having some tasks partly automated. In the legal field, a large study has found that some jobs are more able to be automated than others, with lawyers particularly unlikely to be susceptible to computerisation for a number of reasons.

Should we call it Computerisation, Automation, or Artificial Intelligence?

The term we use when discussing the increasing use of computers for everyday tasks and roles makes a difference in how we perceive this change. Using the word “automation” or “computerisation” rather than the words “artificial intelligence” can help people to feel more positive about the changes that are sure to come. People can get stuck on the idea that “artificial intelligence” is something dangerous, where robots are going to take over the world, while the term “automation” sounds more benign and mundane.

The extent to which automation can truly help and improve our lives should not go understated, with numerous businesses actively trying to automate major processes of their work. For example, a leading medical negligence law firm took the lead and is already working with in-house programmers to automate things that will help them to “improve their competitiveness and productivity”. The automation of certain processes allows staff to work more efficiently, with routine or pattern-based tasks being taken over by an automated system. This frees up staff members to work with more complex tasks, or focus their energy on the social aspects of their jobs. Fletchers Solicitors CEO believes that AI will become increasingly important in the workplace, and that for his organisation they will “strive to remain at the forefront” of their industry by using computerised tasks.

Which Legal Jobs Will be Computerised?

The study released by the University of Oxford examined in detail which jobs were likely to become computerised, and which ones weren’t. In the legal field, lawyers only have a 3.5% likelihood of being computerised, with paralegals and legal assistants at the other end of the scale at 94.5% chance of being automated. In the middle were court reporters, judicial law clerks, and judges, with likelihoods of 50.2%, 40.9%, and 40.1% likelihood of being automated.

Lawyers are less likely to be automated due to the social intelligence aspects of their role. It’s simpler for a machine to complete tasks that are based on rules and patterns, while interacting with people and creating a relationship of trust is difficult. This is such an integral part of the lawyer’s job, it’s easy to see that automation of this type of behaviour is a long way off.

On the other hand, paralegals and legal assistants have numerous aspects of their roles that can be computerised. For instance, document review and narration are easily automated, with speech recognition software effectively replacing the task of typing out a lawyer’s dictation into a document.

Another factor at play is that paralegals and legal assistants do not require a large amount of creativity in their work. Machine learning is based on rules and patterns, so the less creativity a job requires, the more likely it is to be computerised. Lawyers on the other hand are required to find solutions to a client’s problems, some of which might require creative reasoning to determine a good outcome.

Finally, the amount of relationship-building varies widely between the two professions: lawyers build relationships with numerous people every day, including clients, fellow lawyers, judges, clerks, and expert witnesses. Paralegals and legal assistants do have a variety of relationships, but their primary role is to assist one or several main lawyers. As such, the relationship-building aspect of their role is minimal when compared to a lawyer.

Judges, court reporters, and judicial law clerks are somewhere in the middle – some aspects of their roles follow a clear pattern, such as a judge relying on previous legal precedent to decide a case, or a court reporter following the same outline for reporting on a case.

What Comes Next?

As automation becomes a bigger part of our lives, it will begin to increasingly dominate tasks that rely on pattern recognition, as well as expanding further into “non-routine cognitive tasks” as time goes by. So while lawyers are not yet at risk, they may very well be in future, for at least some aspects of their roles such as document examination and inserting information into template contracts, for example. The thought that our jobs may be replaced by robots is a daunting one, but for many people it will only be parts of their jobs that become automated. It’s important to focus on how automation can help us, rather than fear it.

February 13, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

February 13, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

February 6, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized

Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

January 30, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Procuring work

“It’s about time we organised a lavish chambers party,” said Slick today.

“Yes, because everyone knows that free champagne is the most cost-effective way of getting them to give you work,” said TheVamp sarcastically.

“Exactly,” said Slick without a hint of irony. “In my last chambers we always budgeted for two bottles of the finest vintage champagne per solicitor. It always paid for itself in the first set of instructions.”

“That is, if other chambers weren’t doing the same,” said BusyBody.

“Perhaps we should up our game and start offering corporate outings?” said Slick.

“I think you’ll find that OldSmoothie already organises regular visits to the football, opera or golf depending on the particular solicitors’ interests.”

“Even though the Bar Code of Conduct prohibits giving any form of present or commission to solicitors other than small promotional items,” said BusyBody.

“I think you’ll find that all of my entertainment is for private purposes and has nothing whatsoever to do with work,” said OldSmoothie.

“What? Meaning that if you also sleep with your female solicitors after taking them out then it’s somehow better?” said BusyBody.

“It’s very simple,” said OldSmoothie ignoring the dig. “I always make a point of never discussing work at any of those events.”

“Which is fortunate given that your juniors do all of your work for you,” said TheVamp.

“As far as I’m concerned this makes it a private function and nothing to do with work at all,” said OldSmoothie.

“As is the day’s pheasant shooting that you give each year to that judge you’re always appearing in front of,” said BusyBody.

“Exactly,” said OldSmoothie.

“Though I think you might find the Code itself is a little less forgiving,” said UpTights.

“But what if I was going out with a solicitor?” said TheCreep, now looking very worried that he might one day accidentally break the rules.

“I hardly think that’s likely Mr Cweepy Weepy,” said TheVamp patting him on the head.

“The thing is, where does it end? What is private and what is work?” he persisted.

“Ah, now there’s a question,” said OldRuin with a wry smile. “Not that it’ll stop me cooking Sunday lunch for my best friend this week, despite the fact that he’s a senior judge.”

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

January 25, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Not a penny more

UpTightsOld Smoothie popped round to UpTights’ room yesterday.  They have a case listed against each other next week and he wanted to try and settle it early.  OldSmoothie is for a mother who was knocked over by a drunk driver and seriously injured.

“The Clerks tell me we’re against each other next week,” said OldSmoothie.

“So it seems,” she replied curtly.

“Yes, well.  As you might imagine, she’s not in a good way and I’m keen to settle this if we can and avoid her having to go through the ordeal of a court hearing.”

“I’m sure you are, OldSmoothie.  On a CFA by any chance?”

“Still your old charming self UpTights, I see.  Anyway, my instructions said you might have an offer for me.  No point playing games with each other at our age.  What’s your bottom line?”

“Touché OldSmoothie.  At least you’ll always be the elder.”

“So what can you come up with?  We’ve already said we’d go away for £200,000.”

“Fair enough [OldSmoothie].  You’re right.  Cutting to the chase.  The very maximum we’ll go up to is £120,000 and not a penny more.  No games remember so that’s the absolute tops.  Not a single penny more.  Understood?  Not a penny.”

“Understood.  Not a penny.  I’ll go and take instructions.”

OldSmoothie left and then returned about an hour later.

“Well UpTights.  I’ve taken instructions on your offer and it is rejected and we counter-offer with £120,000 and…”

He paused, for effect,

“…one penny.”  He smirked directly at her.

“I hope you’re joking.  I don’t believe that’s what your client would have said.”

“Funny sense of humour, my client.”

“As if.  Completely out of order.  What if I say no and your client loses the offer?”

“But you won’t UpTights.  I know you too well.  You wouldn’t want to lose face with your beloved cash cow of an insurance company over one pence.  Now, off you go and take instructions if you really need to.  You might want to get back by 3pm as my solicitors will start preparing the trial bundle and incurring even more costs after that.  Cheerio!”

Cheerio?  I thought that was just a breakfast cereal.  Anyway, as he waltzed out, UpTights was fuming as you might imagine.  She didn’t say a word to me even though she was walking round the room at a hundred miles an hour and steam might almost have been coming out of her ears.

At one minute to three, she rang OldSmoothie and fired into the phone, “Agreed OldSmoothie.  Never ever do that to me again” before slamming it back down.

January 18, 2017 · Tim Kevan · 7 Comments
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

January 16, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Divas

HeadofChambers improved (1)Apparently there was an opera singer dining on High Table in Gray’s Inn Hall last night.  The diva surrounded by some of the country’s most distinguished barristers and judges.

“Doesn’t open her mouth for less than £20,000 apparently,”  HeadOfChambers reported at tea this afternoon.

“She was in good company then,” OldSmoothie piped up.

January 11, 2017 · Tim Kevan · 2 Comments
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Protecting Yourself From Online Fraud in 2017

Consideration has been given for the editing and publishing of this post

As compensation claims from victims of online fraud continue to flood lawyers’ offices around the world, consumers are still underprepared to protect themselves from online fraud in the first place. It is much more difficult to recover a stolen identity or personal funds than it is to protect them. By understanding the evolving face of online fraud, we can make more intentional decisions about protecting what is ours.

  1. Research Current Scams. The United States government has a great resource for understanding novel internet frauds that are being perpetuated around the world at ftc.gov/scams. You can sign up for updates here and through other sources devoted to the topic. Depending on the way you use the internet, make sure you understand fraud geared toward your user demographic.
  2. Be Wary of Free Trials. Free trials for online services can often be a good deal, but if you are unfamiliar with a company and their cancellation policies, you could be on the hook for a long time to come. Make sure you understand exactly what you are signing up for and that you will be able to cancel the service at will, especially if the company has some of your financial information. If you can’t find clear reviews from other users, don’t put personal information on sites like this.
  3. Report Robocalls. Automated voice calls are illegal. If you receive one, it’s because your number is already in the records of a company that is breaking the law. Don’t engage one of these calls. Hang up and call the FTC.
  4. Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards. Credit cards have consumer protection built into the service agreements. Debit cards have much less, because they are taking money directly out of your bank account when payment is issued. If your credit card number is stolen or otherwise compromised, you can get the funds restored much more quickly and easily than if they were stolen from a compromised debit card.
  5. Don’t Trust Caller ID’s and Logos. Many fraudsters create emails and phone calls that use the official logos and caller ID’s of legitimate companies. If you are contacted by a company that looks official, don’t automatically give them what they ask for. Do your research about such scams any time you receive fishy contacts from companies. It could save you incredible trouble moving forward.
  6. Be Wary of the Unexpected. Companies that handle your money are in the business of interacting with you in ways that you warranted. If you are contacted by an individual or company “out of the blue”, be suspicious of this communication. It is likely that you will be asked for personal information soon after the contact is made. It is best to cut off this communication and report it as soon as possible.

Even though there are many legal remediations for online fraud, it is much more difficult to repair than to prevent. If you want to keep online fraud out of your life for good, make the above practices part of your daily internet usage habit.

January 9, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

January 9, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized