Will there still be lawyers in the future?


A friend recently sent me a Fast Company article by Ben Schiller, "Yes, Robots Really Are Going To Take Your Job And End The American Dream," which is another thought-piece on our current technological revolution, using Martin Ford's recent book Rise of the Robots. The argument goes likes this... In the past, technological revolutions have always eliminated some industries and jobs, but led to net job gains and an expanded job base. Think, for example, of how the success of the car nearly eliminated the industry surrounding horse-drawn transportation. But it also led to so much more. Not just around cars and trucks themselves, either--think of the new worlds of possibilities cars offered. The suburbs wouldn't exist without cars. (I know some people feel strongly about the suburbs, so I won't go into whether their existence is good or bad!)

Today, however, technology revolution--the roboticization of our world--is just replacing jobs. With nothing. The jobs are gone. It started with assembly line type work, but now robots are moving out of factories and warehouses. They can perform tasks that have traditionally been protected because of their seeming requirement of artistic nature or judgment. You know, human intelligence. And there's no easy answer.

But we now have robots that write music, sports articles, and trade stocks. What's next? How does all this affect hiring trends and education?

Roles like eDiscovery attorney (the first level coder role at least) and legal staff are already being affected by the rapid innovation in information management, eDiscovery platforms, law practice software and forms, and law management. Will traditional lawyers be on the chopping block next?

As the world changes, it'll be up to us -- we'll need to adjust and prove our relevance, but we'll also need to be on the cutting edge. These changes are -- at least right now -- career development opportunities for lawyers. Technological changes bring changes in economic, regulatory, and legal landscapes. As lawyers, it's up to us to help clients see what may be coming down the pike and to prepare for it. When you think about your own legal resume and personal branding in places like your LinkedIn profile, ask yourself, how do you help clients move into the future?