Thousand of attorneys in New York Shitty live off of contract gigs, hoping to hide out until the economy improves. Some have made careers of it. Actually, to many, it seemed like the only healthy part of the legal industry--since Big Law was favoring contract attorneys over first year associates to do the grunt work of document review. Then the ABA OK'd Indian Lawyers doing the same work for pennies on the dollar. We thought that gutted the industry. But now, contract work stands to be eliminated altogether with the advent of a new discovery software that actually analyzes legal documents. Yes, it thinks like a lawyer--batteries not included. The article is short, so here it is:
When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” — providing documents relevant to a lawsuit — the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for a platoon of lawyers and paralegals who worked for months at high hourly rates.
But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.
Some programs go beyond just finding documents with relevant terms at computer speeds. They can extract relevant concepts — like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East — even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.
“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr, who as a lawyer at a major chemical company used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”Yes, lawyers are the grocery store cashiers of the 00's, the bank tellers of the 90's and the factory workers of the 80's... We're being replaced by computers. Could this be the first white collar job to fall to new and innovative technology? And we thought the service sector was safe. Terminator is becoming more real to me every day.
Thanks for the tip, Reader!