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Lawyers of the future could be required to take productivity-boosting drugs, Law Society predicts

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Legal workforce could drop by almost 50% in ‘disruptive’ vision of 2050 profession

Artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies could “radically reduce” the numbers of lawyers and those that survive could be compelled to take “performance-enhancing medication” to boost productivity, The Law Society has predicted in a dystopian vision of the profession in 2050.

This “savage reduction” of the legal workforce would hit high street firms particularly hard, the report warns, as conveyancing, wills and probate are among those “delivered by large retail legal service providers”.

Meanwhile, in corporate law firms, “large swathes of routine legal advice will either be conducted in-house by clients using technology solutions, or outsourced to technology-enabled providers. Only the high value, complex or newest areas of law will need human input. Humans may also be needed in relationship management with larger clients”.

Between 2030 and 2050, the numbers of lawyers and staff would drop by almost 50%, according to the report.

“Lawyers remaining within the profession must work alongside technology — and are required to take performance-enhancing medication in order to optimise their own productivity and effectiveness,” the Law Society says.

These were some of the predictions put forward by The Law Society in the first output of its Future Worlds 2050 project. The project aims to explore future trends in the profession to prepare for uncertainty in the decades ahead. It outlines both a “disruptive” and “conservative” scenario for 2050.

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Under the “conservative” projection, a decline in lawyer numbers is not as drastic, falling by just under 20% by 2050. The “high-end of the legal profession”, however, would be “generally immune to a radical reduction” in staff.

It’s bad news again for high street firms under this model as they are “most at risk of disappearing”, while small firms will “fall out of the market” against a backdrop of “consolidation and a rise in large corporations that can fund and scale technology”.

Elsewhere, Law Society researchers found 85% of jobs predicted for 2030 “do not yet exist” and 50% of workers think that the roles and skills of the next 10-15 years are “impossible to predict within their industry”.

AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and will be so trusted in decision-making that “it will have a vote on the board”. By 2030, “everyone has a ‘free’ lawyer at their disposal, similar to Siri”.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “The legal profession is at a pivotal moment, as is the world in which we live. There are a plethora of forces shifting our collective experience and the business environment. If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s that the future can still catch you unawares.”

She highlighted AI, hybrid working, green energy and climate change as possible themes the profession may focus on in the years 2020 to 2030.

The rest of the project’s findings will be reported granularly to include perceptions of the world in 2020 to 2030, 2030 to 2040 and 2040 to 2050.

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33 Comments

Weil junior who has been billing 21 hours straight for the 11th day in a row

Hang on you don’t take these already? Rookie error.

Ruh roh

I have a TC from Weil 🙁
Say it ain’t so.

Plain Facts

Evidently that just isn’t true though is it buddy.

Best hasten that lunch-time break commenting on here & return to revision for tomorrow’s Criminal paper. If you’re lucky the sun might still be out this evening for you to enjoy a quick Sprite with your dorm-mates.

Mous

Time to hand in your notice mate, life worth more than that especially when the sun’s out

Anonymous

Imagine a society where the populace is forced to take artificial substances in order to enjoy basic freedoms. I’m so glad we don’t live in a society like that.

Hackaforte

Dang! So edgy it gave me a papercut.

Nmo

Still you kind of hope if anyone dies in the next few weeks gasping for their last breath before the last sedation prior to ventilation it is those who listen to crap like Covid Scam rather than people who care about others.

Barry

“If you don’t do X you don’t care about others”. Nice to see the moral grandstanding of the 2000’s religious right has found a new home in vaccine fanatics.

I got the vaccine, does that mean I care about others? No, it means I made a choice to get a vaccine. So why would a choice not to get the vaccine mean that a person doesn’t care about others?

Anon

Because absent specific medical issues, not getting a vaccine is a deeply selfish act. Ironically the type that take that position also seem to be the types that want all restrictions lifted ….

Legal Cheek Deletes All Interesting Comments

I’m so confused by Anon @3.50pm’s comment.

(1) For hundreds of years, people have known how to control the spread of disease: you quarantine the sick. In 2021 an authoritarian, Maoist regime decided to instead quarantine the healthy, even though the risk to anyone without a serious underlying health condition is minimal. And somehow it is those who object to such restrictions in Europe who are ‘selfish’?

(2) People who don’t get the vaccine can only transmit the virus to (free-thinking, autonomous) humans who have themselves chosen not to get the vaccine. It is an extremely strange argument indeed to describe a behaviour as ‘deeply selfish’ when the cost of that behaviour is borne by the very people exhibiting it.

(3) It is not ‘ironic’ that those who object to (quasi-)compulsory medical experimentation, also tend to object to (virtual) house arrest. Indeed, this is a philosophically consistent stance. What is, ironic, however, is to accuse others of irony, whilst failing to recognise the irony of one’s own position. Namely, the view that if people want to reclaim their freedom, they should submit to restrictions on their individual liberties and surrender their bodily autonomy.

Multiple perspectives

If you need that explained to you, then you’re beyond saving.

Bob

SH*T. I already use performance enhancing drugs in the practice of law so I am not sure what I am going to do in 2030.

Anonymous

Most of the junior lawyers I know are open about their adderall usage anyway. It’s hardly a futuristic thing. Your life is just 10x more difficult if you don’t take it.

Big Law M&A Junior

Don’t make it sound like it’s the majority of people when there might be just a handful of professionals in the City taking performance enhancing drugs like Adderall.

Truth is, this profession is not always rocket science. It might be physically draining but that’s it and there is never any need to resort to drugs (and this is coming from a Big Law M&A junior).

If you’re tired simply eat better and catch-up on sleep on weekends (avoiding alcohol too).

Stay in the dark

Ah yes. The mythical BigLaw junior who will never name their firm despite being entirely anonymous. You know CMS isn’t BigLaw right? Or maybe you’re just completely clueless about what other juniors are doing at your own firm.

Your advice is some real boomer stuff. Are you a 50 year old junior?

Lose - Lose

…and if they name their firm, they’ll get called a liar and told to revise for their criminal law exam. I do find it rather ironic that the so-called professionals on this site complain about undergraduates posting here, but at the same time indirectly ‘eat their own’.

Big Law M&A Junior

It’s funny because I really am a Big Law junior and, to be honest, a “Big Big Law” junior too. Anyway, not like this means anything. As I said below, I did pull crazy weeks in terms of workload and continue to do so. The PE/M&A market has been hysteric since last year so this has been normal for a lot of transactional professionals.

But again, LC comments prefer to attack rather than engage, mindlessly supporting myths like the one of this post when the reality is that almost no one in the City takes performance enhancing drugs for work purposes. It’s a movie myth, time to grow up!

Anonymous

I can’t speak for 4:19 but I am sincerely curious what city firm has such “squeaky-clean” juniors. When I said “most of the junior lawyers I know,” I didn’t mean 90%. It’s closer to 60%. It sounds like “Big Law M&A Junior” is implying that they’re at a US firm and I’d say the adderall usage there is probably higher than average. It’s surprising that they aren’t aware of it.

To be honest, I didn’t realise it was so controversial. There’s nothing wrong with taking adderall to make your work more bearable. It’s not like I’m saying everyone is snorting coke in the bathrooms. Even at university, a good proportion of law students (and the student population in general) would use adderrall to help them revise for finals. It’s hardly a surprise that this habit continues into the workplace when the workload is more consistently intense.

T

Ok buddy, you’ve said your piece, now probably time to get back to your LPC electives revision.

Afraid you won’t receive an offer from a BigLaw firm if you fail your Advanced Commercial Law paper, so let’s crack on with the textbooks shall we?

Furthermore, if you keep writing lengthy comments on here, doesn’t look like those TC apps will submit themselves over summer does it?

Wolf of Liverpool Street

Glad someone else has said this. It’s completely unnecessary.

Big Law M&A Junior

It truly is and almost no one takes these kind of drugs. It’s almost a myth but, for some reason, people like to romanticise the fact.

Funny how I am being called out for not being a “Big Law” Junior. Trust me, I know very well what the definition of Big Law is!

I have pushed consecutive 90+ hour weeks so I believe I know what I am talking about. There is absolutely no need for any kind of drugs whatsoever to do the job properly. Again, physically taxing but not mentally challenging over a sustained period of time, especially at the junior level (which is when hours are the longest).

kthxbye

FlourPour

Modafinil and adderall etc. don’t boost your brainpower they’re better for focus and alertness which is exactly what you need when rolling out a set of corporate authorities for a 120+ company group at midnight.

Still bored

Once again, FlourPour demonstrates they couldn’t hack City law.

FlourPour

Happy to admit that. It wasn’t for me. If you think corporate law is anything but dirge at the lower end it only demonstrates you haven’t had the opportunity to sample it yet.

Me

Adderall? You are not keeping up. Modafinil is where it is at now. You can bill 25 hours a day on that staff.

Anonymous

And, unlike Adderall, you don’t feel like you are on a coke come-down for most of the day.

Hackaforte

Well, at least we’ll all have lasers and jetpacks and wise-cracking robot sidekicks.

The Future? Me Rich From ‘Predicting’ It

And we’ll have lightsabers, flying Ubers, robot girlfriends and Hypnotoad.

I can play fantasy make-believe too!

Quick – better publish my fantasies, call them ‘futurology’ and get my whole family to write the sequels so they can call themselves a ‘published author’ too!

Pasta Dr Martin Ssempa

And it [corporate law] is so painful they have to take drugs…

…but they enjoy it.

tips@legalcheek.com

Why is law society writing these sci-fi novels? Have they foreseen the pandemic and the beginning of global WFH? No one knows what will happen by 2050.

They really remind me Kazakh President Nazarbayev who in 2013 adopted nation Strategy 2050 (being 72 years old). It is very easy to do this (good publicity) knowing that you will be long gone (from this planet or from your post) when the deadline comes, and no one will ever ask you about it.

Anonymous City

If your job makes you need antidepressants to get through the day, does that make them performance enhancing drugs?

Don't care.

Yawn.

Is it just me or...?

I can’t be the only one who just straight up does not believe the points made in this article about AI at all? I have a hard time believing this is even a real report from the Law Society. Everyone having an AI lawyer similar to Siri by 2030 and AI so trusted it has a seat on the board must be a late April fool from them… the tech we have now is nothing short of crap and still requires significant hours of input from lawyers. In most cases it’s easier to not use it at all and we only do it because clients think it reduces costs. I’m not saying tech won’t have an impact on the market but I certainly can’t see a situation where clients are using it as an “in house counsel” and not seeking advice from actual experienced lawyers in the near future… am I the only one? We seem to be getting article after article shoved down our throats about how tech will eradicate our jobs in the near future, yet none seem to acknowledge that tech simply isn’t capable of having the same level of experience and knowledge as an actual lawyer. I’m getting sick of it…to me it’s the same saying no one will bother seeing an actual GP in a few years time and everyone will just rely on WebMD. Is it just me?

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