By: Soha Atiq

Artificial intelligence in the legal field has expanded over the last couple of years. At its core, in the legal world, AI takes on the role of computer learning, reasoning, and analyzing information relevant to legal matters. AI has been appealing in this regard because by using machine learning, algorithms, and associated technologies, the product will more often than not be increasingly accurate, reliable, and efficient over time [1].

Current trends show larger firms being early adopters of AI because of the financial restrictions for smaller firms, and its constant use will alter the legal landscape for these firms.

How AI is Shifting Legal Work

In the next few years, current trends show that AI will essentially eliminate tasks completed by junior lawyers at larger firms. At this moment, AI has already replaced non-lawyer professions such as legal secretaries and assistants. Larger firms are beginning to understand the accuracy, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness that accompanies the implementation of AI tools [2]. While there are many benefits to the introduction of AI, such technology in larger firms will have implications for articling students and junior lawyers looking to develop legal skills outside of law school [3]. This will inevitably lead to a pool of junior talent that cannot keep or obtain roles at larger firms. However, the overall legal market will benefit from the junior lawyers looking for work.

The Role of Smaller Legal Firms

With the increase in job searching, articling students and junior lawyers will require a place to develop and refine foundational legal skills. Smaller firms can step in and absorb a percentage of these legal professionals [4]. By increasing the talent at their firm, smaller firms will have the opportunity to become more ambitious, more talented, and more competent [5]. This will require smaller firms to take the necessary steps to diversify their work and increase their client list to attract talented lawyers looking for work.

Junior lawyers who have traditionally sought employment from larger firms will demand equivalent, if not more effective legal training from employers they choose to work with [6]. Smaller firms should, as a result, strategically develop their legal skills and training. While AI has been used to displace junior lawyers in larger firms, these AI tools can be implemented in smaller firms at a narrow scale to allow junior lawyers to interact with legal technology and legal advancement. It is not sufficient to push junior lawyers into work the firm requires to be completed. Instead, the work given to junior lawyers must have a purpose from the legal development perspective.

The Future

Developing skills and receiving feedback are essential for the progress of junior lawyers. With AI displacing opportunities for junior lawyers at larger firms, smaller firms will be required to play a more prominent role in ensuring that the legal profession’s future remains bright. While this development in AI technology may come at the cost of opportunities for junior lawyers, it will likely result in a greater pool of talented lawyers to choose from for smaller firms [7]. AI will not replace junior lawyers. Instead, it will shift this talent pool into areas they would have yet to consider.

[1] See How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect the Practice of Law. 68 U. Toronto L.J. 106.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.