New Zealand Law Society - Legal futurist says profession has five years to reinvent itself

Legal futurist says profession has five years to reinvent itself

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By 2020 "massive technological advances" will reshape legal practice, renowned legal futurist Professor Richard Susskind says.

He says artificial intelligence and legal process systems are moving forward at such a pace that legal practice in coming years is more likely to resemble the work of technologists than the type of law seen in TV shows like "Suits" or "The Good Wife".

Susskind says computer systems will soon be able to accurately diagnose and respond to clients' legal problems.

"If you are fixed on how we are working, then don't go in to law. Start preparing now. We as a profession have about five years to reinvent ourselves to move from being world-class legal advisers to world-class legal technologists," Susskind recently told the Law Society of England and Wales law management section's annual conference, as reported by the Law Society Gazette.

The author of "The End of Lawyers" and "The Future of the Professions" said rather than regarding imminent change as a threat, lawyers, and particularly graduates, should welcome the opportunity to become "knowledge engineers, designers and process analysts".

"For the next five years the legal profession will work on using better human resource models, delegate to paralegals, move to better locations and give lawyers far better systems," he said.

"In the 2020s we will see technologies that change the way we work – you are no longer face-to-face advisers, you are a person putting in systems and processes.

"It is not that there are no jobs in the future, but the 2020s will be a decade of redeployment not unemployment. It is not an emergency but over the next five years we have to prepare. More and more legal services will be enabled by the support of new technology.

"You can say 'that is for the technology industry to sort out', or you can be part of the technology industry."

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