This week, Slate has published a series about jobs that could be replaced by robots in the near future. Clearly, this is a trend that has happened over decades, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Now the trend may be encroaching more on professional and service-based occupations.
Today's installment explored the possibility of legal services becoming more automated. Robots are now being designed to have complicated processing abilities more similar to a human brain, and some are able to decipher and produce natural language. For example, it was fascinating to watch Watson, IBM's robot battle Jeopardy! legends Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.
Also, increasing technology has been utilized in law firms, as in every other field. It is possible to scan documents, use software to search terms, and to work from previously stored drafts. Lawyers who have not embraced technology are not as competitive in the marketplace. The bigger question is whether these technologies will lead to more price competition among attorneys. It may be the attorneys will need to focus more on providing value to clients through advice and counsel, to distinguish themselves from being seen as simply document preparers.