Will AI Software Make Lawyers Obsolete?
New technologies have always sought to make processes more efficient, hence making things cheaper, easier to make, and more accessible to the masses. Computing technology reduced the time of calculating complex equations to fractions of a second. Commercial aircraft technology allowed the everyday person to buy a ticket and fly across the world.
Recently, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has become a hot topic in discussions around the future of work. Artificial intelligence technology refers to machines and software that are programmed to think and behave like humans. They have “human-like” skills such as problem-solving, learning, reacting to situations, and understanding human speech. Tools such as contract management software integrate AI technology to automate processes and reduce the amount of tedious or repetitive work that employees have to do.
A hot button issue with AI technology is its potential to render human workers obsolete, from factory workers to fast food cashiers. The fear of machines taking over human work is a pervasive sentiment, but many believe that occupations in law, medicine and creative fields would be safe from this issue. However, is that really the case? Will AI software disrupt these professions?
Contract management software manages the contract life cycle. Normally, this duty would fall to a lawyer or legal team. So, will AI software make lawyers obsolete?
The short answer is no. The long answer is no, but these technologies will increase productivity and make legal processes more efficient and accurate.
The purpose of using contract management software is to streamline the administrative tasks that come along with creating, managing, and executing contracts. Things like data collection, documentation, sending copies of the contract to the correct parties, and following up with vendors post-contract are some of the tasks that can be handed off to contract management software.
While this software is sophisticated and adaptable, it cannot completely replace the role of a lawyer. Software may be able to predict or formulate content using algorithms and data, but that cannot replace human judgment and opinion. The ability to interpret situations, analyze information meaningfully, and navigate through complex legal landscapes will still require the expertise of a legal professional.
In their 2017 A Future That Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity report, McKinsey Global Institute found that about half the activities people are paid to do “have the potential to be automated.” However, the report also suggested less than 5 percent of all occupations, including law, can be automated entirely. While research around AI technology’s effects on the future of work is still emerging, these figures show that despite many human tasks having the ability to be automated by AI, they cannot be fully replaced by machines. This especially holds true in the legal field, where there are higher-level cognitive tasks demanded from lawyers.
That being said, contract management software can boost the productivity and efficiency of lawyers by providing them the most accurate, up-to-date data much faster than a human could. Contract management software also helps firms standardize contracts and processes, mitigating the risk of errors between different contract versions or iterations. They can also be used to set deadlines, dates, and reminders that could otherwise be easily lost in peoples’ calendars. Contracts are all about standardization and compliance, which is where automated workflows thrive.
Investing in AI contract management software can save a company a significant amount of time and money in the long run. Deloitte University Press estimates that a high level of investment in AI technology could save the state government $931 million in public workers’ salaries per year. While this report predicts AI technology’s implications on a much larger scale than a medium-size company, the fundamental conclusion is the same: investing in AI technology will help companies save money and improve efficiency.
A lawyer’s duty entails a wide, ever-changing spectrum of tasks involving a range of creative, social, and logical abilities. While contract management software may lighten their workloads in terms of tedious administrative tasks, this software does not come close to replacing trained legal professionals. Instead of seeing it as a threat to the legal profession, AI softwares should be regarded as an ally. It is a tool that can be used to make better-informed decisions, simplify an extremely bureaucratic process, and free up a significant amount of time for lawyers to focus on more complicated tasks – more human tasks.