You know when you’re in the company of the top international attorneys, educators, and thought leaders. The Tokyo Summit on December 13, 2018 at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental was one of those rare occasions. It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m a Solution Consultant in Thomson Reuters’ Tokyo office, so I get the privilege to attend many great events.
It was my pleasure and privilege to be one of the panelists discussing AI and how it will affect the practice of law. Other panels that day were also intriguing, but I’ll admit, I’m bias. For those that missed out, don’t skip on the next Tokyo Summit taking place April 18th at the Tokyo American Club. Don’t worry, it will be in both English and Japanese. I’ll be speaking and hopefully you can watch me in action.
If you missed the summit, here’s a brief re-cap.
Lawyers around the world, including yours truly, have gone from hardline skeptic, to reluctant adopter, to eventually enthusiastic evangelist. We’ve stopped saying, “That’ll never work!” and started asking, “How does that work?”
Imagine working on a production line in Detroit, Michigan when the first robots were wheeled into the factory. Many hard-working factory workers were displaced by this disruptive technology. Those who learned how to repair the robots went on to lucrative careers.
When it comes to the practice of law, we have already seen predictive coding reduce the time required to go through millions of documents from years to months to weeks. We have watched as the contract drafting process has become automated, which reduce not only the time required to draft incredibly complex agreements, but reduced drafting errors dramatically. We have seen invoices give way to e-billing.
Corporations are demanding that legal departments make the shift from cost centers to profit centers. There is tremendous pressure on GCs to reduce legal spend. In turn, GCs are putting pressure on law firms to reduce billable hours. As a guilded profession, the practice of law does not lend itself to innovations aimed at reducing billable hours. But as the number of corporations seeking to reduce legal spend reaches critical mass, the practice of law is experiencing evolution at the most fundamental level.
AmLaw firm partners feel the ground shifting beneath their feet. The corporate mantra of “Do more with less” is making its way to partners in the form of, “Reduce costs or be replaced.”
The question on everybody’s minds is, “Will AI replace me?”
The answer is, “AI will not replace lawyers. But lawyers who use AI will replace lawyers who don’t use AI.”
See you at the next Tokyo Summit 2019 in April 18th at the Tokyo American Club.