Why automation will not mean the end of the legal profession

LawAdvisor has projected that automation through technology will eventually replace the role of lawyers, thereby effecting the entire industry in its latest article.

We don’t think that’s entirely possible.  And here’s why:

  1. You cannot automate a sense of objectivity and justice that a lawyer brings to the table.  If the result of automation is that it develops a generation of bush lawyers, there will always be a need for a second opinion from someone not invested in the outcome, otherwise bush lawyers will inevitably bring litigation to Courts inadvisably and on spurious grounds.  Also, from being involved in many cases and in legal commercial drafting, lawyers develop a sense of justice and just know what Courts expect of their clients.
  2. Professional Indemnity Insurance.  If people and businesses are going to run their own legal cases, they won’t have anyone to blame if their management of the case goes completely wrong.  Being able to sue for malpractice reduces the risk people face in asserting a particular defence or cause of action.
  3. Public morality.  Judges are the arbiters of what is acceptable public morality for the times.  Lawyers are best placed to assess what judges consider to be the current state of morals just due to the amount of case law they read and the fact that they mingle with judges.
  4. Knowledge of a Judge’s Background and Career.  Due to being involved in legal circles, lawyers are more likely to have followed the career of those who make it to the Bench, resulting in a better assessment of how they may rule in a particular case.
  5. Representation in Court.  There is always going to be a need for people to be represented in Court by those who are skilled at doing it and who have the experience to know how best to manage this situation.  Some people are terrified of speaking in public, let alone before a knowledgeable person such as a judge.
  6. Letters by lawyers create the need for action and urgency.  There is to much of a remote possibility that the emphasis given by receiving a legal letter can ever be replaced.
  7. Time.  While there are bush lawyers around and a new generation of bush lawyers may develop, people are even more poor on time these days to prepare cases, read the results of research and to put the thinking time into an analysis of legislation, case law and public morals.
  8. Government’s Priorities.  The government has a vested interest in keeping the costs of running the Court system low and efficiency is paramount in this goal. Opening the floodgates to bush lawyers running their own cases will necessarily clog up the Court system (it makes cases take a longer time) so governments will be doing what they can to forestall this trend.

This article was written in order to clarify for clients just the value in having a lawyer advise you in relation to your legal matter.  It is not intended to create a barricade against the use of technology to make the law more accessible so that the majority of people who cannot afford legal services can better their circumstances.  That is always a good objective and one that the profession should strive to achieve in any case.

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