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AI could take over day-to-day legal work from lawyers in 3-5 years, shows survey

A survey by BML Munjal University (BMU) School of Law and legal search/consulting firm Vahura showed that 90 percent of the respondents (lawyers) foresee use of digitization and technology in the sector.

July 23, 2020 / 02:39 PM IST

Legal professionals and aspiring lawyers may soon start facing competition from artificial intelligence (AI) which could take over day-to-day tasks in the next three to five years.

A survey by BML Munjal University (BMU) School of Law and legal search/consulting firm Vahura showed that 90 percent of the respondents (lawyers) foresee use of digitisation and technology in the sector.

The survey titled ‘Decoding the Next - Gen Legal Professional’ sought to capture the practitioners’ perspective of the practice of law and to identify the relevant skills required of lawyers in the rapidly transforming legal environment in India.

In an interaction with Moneycontrol, Nigam Nuggehalli, professor and dean of the BMU School of Law said that tasks like due diligence that is traditionally done by legal professionals could be taken over by AI.

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“In areas like due diligence which requires detailed inspection, maybe AI can do it better,” he added.

According to the survey, technology solutions in the legal space may replace some human roles at the entry-level by way of automating repetitive and standardized work but are expected to augment others such as reviewing documents more efficiently.

Over 42 percent of all respondents said that they expect 20 percent of day to day tasks to be automated. In this scenario, the survey report said that lawyers would not only need to be up to date with the latest technological developments but need to develop and sharpen their skills in critical areas.

Nuggehalli said that legal professionals who are unable to make this transition to technical skills may find it tough to survive in the future.

The survey shortlists in order of importance the qualities that young lawyers should currently possess to be relevant and in demand. Research and analytics (94 percent) topped the charts, followed by attention to detail and a sharp eye for accuracy (93 percent), ability to work hard (71 percent), an openness to learn (72 percent) and oral and communication skills (88 percent).

As per the survey, the top skill required would be one of understanding and anticipating client needs (81 percent), followed by tech proficiency (74 percent), commercial awareness (71 percent) and time management (57 percent).

The survey also points to what lawyers and law firms would want in potential recruits. Most respondents, 76 percent said that law schools should have an emphasis on and provide students hands-on practical training in contract drafting, pleadings, and procedure.

Also, 72 percent respondents cited the need to build skills in drafting and negotiation while 61 percent say that law schools should train students in legal technology to make them future ready.

Akshay Munjal, president of BML Munjal University explained that the survey insights can be used to look into their course curriculum and see what are the newer areas that can be added.

“We do look at our curriculum to see what changes need to be made on a regular basis. But speaking to industry professionals through this survey has helped us stay relevant for the future,” he added.

According to Munjal, among emerging areas for lawyers is the segment of driverless cars, autonomous vehicles and how the legal liability of these automobiles would be fixed.
M Saraswathy
first published: Jul 23, 2020 02:39 pm

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