The recent reports were blunt about the state of the legal industry five to ten years from now: robots will take over paralegal jobs. Artificial intelligence is becoming more intelligent. Tech startups are growing and becoming more aggressive.
The question is, how can paralegals cope and where’s the hope for aspiring professionals? Here’s what a prominent paralegal school in New York has to say:
The Rise of the Robots
A surge of innovative tools has made a big impact on law firms in the past years, with most businesses adopting practice management software to oversee day-to-day activities, which include retrieving documents, the most taxing task in law firms. When there’s a need to review case information, the software allows access to pleadings, briefs, and transcriptions in a click or two. It cuts back a considerable amount of time spent going through different documents; therefore, preventing stress.
These technologies also help in reminding tasks, plotting out meetings and trials schedules, providing information about clients, and more. Beyond the management software, there are other more sophisticated tools available, such as the AI product that reviews patent documents or the one that predicts the outcomes of cases. All of these point to the rumor that paralegals are becoming ‘obsolete’. Or are they?
The Role of Humans
According to legal professionals, the truth of the matter is that although technology is gaining traction and making a huge difference, it still won’t replace paralegals because these tools lack the very foundation and spirit of the legal industry: the human factor. A paralegal initiates, keys in information, encodes accurate data in programs, and use it for the right reasons in the name of integrity. It’s the factor that faces clients, expresses empathy over the miscarriage of justice, and inspires people to hope for a more humane society.
For paralegals, the rise of technology is a call to give their practice a human touch. For aspiring professionals, it’s a reminder to be adept at coping with changing times more quickly. It’s a reason to work harder in their education and training.
Yes, technology is becoming more essential in the legal industry, but this doesn’t mean the end of the paralegal’s career. The legal industry needs the human factor now more than ever.