Augmented Lawyering

82 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020 Last revised: 14 Dec 2020

See all articles by John Armour

John Armour

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; University of Oxford - Said Business School; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Richard Parnham

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Mari Sako

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: August 21, 2020

Abstract

How will artificial intelligence (AI) and associated digital technologies reshape the work of lawyers and structure of law firms? Legal services are traditionally provided by highly-skilled humans — that is, lawyers. Dramatic recent progress in AI has triggered speculation about the extent to which automated systems may come to replace humans in legal services. A related debate is whether the legal profession’s adherence to the partnership form inhibits capital-raising necessary to invest in new technology. This Article presents what is to our knowledge the most comprehensive empirical study yet conducted into the implementation of AI in legal services, encompassing interview-based case studies and survey data. We focus on two inter-related issues: how the nature of legal services work will change, and how the firms that co-ordinate this work will be organized. A central theme is that prior debate focusing on the “human vs technology” aspect of change overlooks the way in which technology is transforming the human dimensions of legal services.

Our analysis of the impact of AI on legal services work suggests that while it will replace humans in some tasks, it will also change the work of those who are not replaced. It will augment the capabilities of human lawyers who use AI-enabled services as inputs to their work and generate new roles for legal experts in producing these AI-enabled services. We document these new roles being clustered in multidisciplinary teams (“MDTs”) that mix legal with a range of other disciplinary inputs to augment the operation of technical systems. We identify challenges for traditional law firm partnerships in implementing AI. Contrary to prior debate, these do not flow from constraints on finance to invest in technical assets. Rather, the central problems have to do with human capital: making necessary strategic decisions; recruiting, coordination and motivation the necessary MDTs; and adjusting professional boundaries. These findings have important implications for lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Legal Profession, Law Firm Organization, Lawtech, Future of Legal Services, Legal Technology

JEL Classification: D23, J24, J44, K40, L84, O33

Suggested Citation

Armour, John and Parnham, Richard and Sako, Mari, Augmented Lawyering (August 21, 2020). European Corporate Governance Institute - Law Working Paper 558/2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688896 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3688896

John Armour (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 3UL
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+44 1865 281616 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/people/john-armour

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

HOME PAGE: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/about-us/people/john-armour

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Richard Parnham

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
07971525381 (Phone)
OX1 1HP (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/about-us/people/richard-parnham

Mari Sako

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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