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Why Paralegals Should Understand A.I. and Analytics in Today’s Legal Field

In today’s digital age, the question of how artificial intelligence (A.I.) will shift industries, particularly the legal realm, has been heavily debated.

As a licensed attorney and technology enthusiast who is immersed in A.I., I found it interesting when my 65-year-old mother came out of retirement as an English professor to work as a paralegal in a law firm for the first time.

Like many today, my mother was curious on how A.I., legal research, and time efficiency can fit into one picture.

How A.I. Can Transform Your Law Firm

The background of how paralegals can be valuable to firms is rooted in the evolution of A.I., as applied to legal research. In theory, the integration of A.I. in the workplace will drastically change or even eliminate a plethora of jobs in the short-term.

A.I. has great potential in the medical, legal, and educational fields. But, the legal field in particular, is one in which A.I. will significantly impact and transform, but maybe not always in the most positive way. Why do you ask?

It’s very possible that holistic legal intelligence created by A.I. may limit or eliminate the need for paralegals. Such application would include the application of legal contracts and other documents for transactional work. The efficiency provided would allow firms to take on more clients, process documents and research sooner, and provide cheaper services.

However, there would be an elimination of an entire job sector. This elimination, along with other job sector eliminations could result in American policy changes to protect jobs.

How A.I. Impacts Economic Policy

However, one issue is that those making decisions’ about A.I. are political representatives whose constituents may not fully understand A.I.’s ultimate benefit. Just as those living in Flint and Detroit were understandably unhappy with the micro-economy when the automotive industry left Michigan, many Americans will be unhappy with the micro-economies A.I. harms. 

In theory, an afraid and unhappy population could convince legislators to put barriers up against A.I. implementation. However, it is also foreseeable that the business leaders in America will also have a pull with the legislature and stymie such interference with technological innovation. Therefore, if paperwork, researching, and call center jobs could be replaced by A.I. many people would need to be retrained for the new market place.

Source: Inspiration Innovation Idea Thought Imagination
So What’s a Paralegal To Do?

My advice, if you can’t beat them, join them.

There is only one sure way to ride the wave of constant change technology is bringing — continue educating yourself. The more educational resources paralegals have accessible to them, the better. Why? They almost wholly depend upon technology to help make the partner’s and associate attorney’s lives easier, which in turn, makes their lives in the office easier. Or should.

Whether you are utilizing legal research platforms such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, FastCase, or even Google Scholar, A.I. is changing the ways by which the legal field conducts their legal research, especially when we are talking about analytics. The more research you can do, the longer you can boast about job security.

This idea can be intimidating for someone who is uncomfortable with computers or is training to become a paralegal for the first time. What does the average person know about artificial intelligence? Thankfully, a lot more than you’d think!

For example, the reason utilizing search engines such as Google or Amazon is beneficial today is because of the updated analytics and A.I. running in the background to scrape as much data as possible, tailored to your search.

In my tenure with LexisNexis, the company utilizes “research and solutions consultants,” who are often licensed and practicing attorneys who already know how to research, to then assist other paralegals and attorneys with their search techniques through a ‘Paralegal Mastery Program.’

Thompson Reuters Westlaw Edge platform also gives lawyers, paralegals, and law students a competitive-edge integrating new analytics into its research-based platform.

Yet, the biggest struggle for most people from that point is where to begin training on using A.I. in their legal research. But, this is not something any paralegal should worry about because legal research providers offer those services free of charge.

Choose a Side

While retraining on technology may seem intimidating, that fear shouldn’t stand in anyone’s way of retraining for the workforce. No longer can we resist the age of technology. It could just result in serious malpractice issues for those in the legal field.

A wonderful aspect of technology is it is a great equalizer of people because we are all learning every day. We all, paralegals and lawyers, have to be humble enough to learn and smart enough to join artificial intelligence in conducting legal research.