The legal sector, both in law firms and in-house, is assumed to be closed systems.
The focus (with the exception of some plaintiff lawyers) historically has been on reducing risk - both for itself and for the client. In addition, there tends to be foot-dragging in adopting to new technologies.
That may still be true.
And that might be why talent in the in-house part of practicing law has been migrating to AI (artificial intelligence) contract startups, ranging from LawGeex to Seal. The kinds of professionals being seduced away include technologists, experts in legal operations, and lawyers themselves.
Exits have happened even at high-tech companies themselves such as H-P, Google, and Microsoft.
In Law.com (originally published in LegalTech), Rhys Dipshan reports that there essentially are two factors underlying the diaspora.
One is to be on the front lines of re-configuring future legal operations. Yes, they would be in the role of disruptor.
The other is to be more creative. Yes, even lawyers yearn to think and act out of the box. That's despite their education and early training to insulate the box.
Not all the AI startups will become profitable - or even survive. But once migrants get the hang of taking risks with their career they usually develop the mindset and marketing ability to find another employment opportunity or even launch their own firm.
The classic example of that had been the Corporate America middle managers driven out, in middle age, from the only work setting they knew. Leaders such as Jack Welch and Lee Iacocca had introduced downsizing. Technologies such as the PC or distributed computing systems also eliminated the need for that layer.
That generation of middle managers, such as myself, became accidental entrepreneurs. Ageism was against us even then. We were aware we were less attractive to employers. The new category in business sprung up - office supply retail for small business. Staples dominated that new space for decades. Currently, we are figuring out how to continue to stay in business or land part-time jobs or gig opportunities post-65.
Because of developments in AI, it could be commonplace that throughout the legal sector - law firms and in-house - technology will eliminate jobs.
An example of that potential is Atrium. That's a full-service law firm which uses AI to serve the routine needs of startups. That's at a flat fee. And the tasks are accomplished more quickly than when done manually by human lawyers. However, half the staff at Atrium are lawyers. That's for now.
On the one hand, the legal sector seems to have recovered from The Crash. Back then, in 2009, 6,000 lawyers were put out there on the street. Even litigation has bounced back. But those happy days might not be for long. AI could be more a negative factor on being hired, holding on to that job, and moving to better jobs than The Crash.
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