find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Forum to contemplate AI and future of BigLaw

Forum to contemplate AI and future of BigLaw

Alain Musikanth

Legal stakeholders plan to gather at a special forum in Perth this week to discuss the implications of artificial intelligence for tomorrow’s lawyers.

Initiated by the Law Society of Western Australia, the event will focus specifically on big firms and what automation means for junior lawyers in these workforces.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly about the necessity of the forum, the president of the Western Australia Law Society Alain Musikanth said that with rapid uptake of AI technologies by BigLaw, graduates and young lawyers are increasingly being edged out of critical learning opportunities.

“Universities have already started thinking about how courses need to be tailored and modified in light of technological advances, but the focus of the forum is really going to be how the firms are going to deal with the challenge of AI, when they are the ones using the technology,” Mr Musikanth said.

“What is taught in the universities is vitally important, but of course, you can’t learn everything from uni,” he said.

As law firms use AI for labour-intensive tasks such as discovery, traditionally the domain of junior practitioners, Mr Musikanth suggested that the result may be a generation of up-and-comers who miss out on properly developing core professional skills. The barrister identified legal judgement and analytical skills as those most at risk. 

“I don’t quite know what the younger lawyers are going to end up doing,” Mr Musikanth said.

“With AI effectively replacing much of the grunt work and the grind work that [were] previously done, there is a real concern as to how the junior lawyers and the graduates are going to learn the basic skills that they otherwise would have learnt by doing those boring, repetitive tasks,” he said.

Friday’s forum will bring together some of the leading managing law firm partners in WA, as well as representatives from the bar, Legal Practice Board, Legal Profession Complaints Committee and the Law Council of Australia.

Mr Musikanth added that while the discussion is for lawyers of all kinds, he anticipates that those graduates working for big firms face the greatest challenge. For BigLaw, factors such as the volume of work, sophistication of clients and size of the firm create extra pressure, he said.

“This is something that’s going to affect pretty much every one of the big firms and some of the small ones too,” Mr Musikanth said.

“Given that the machines will be doing the [grunt] work, and the product of the machine’s work will be analysed by the senior lawyers and senior partners, we want to be able to ensure that those entering the profession are able to refine those key skills of analysis and judgement.

“These are the sort of practical skills which can really only be learnt by through on the job experience,” he said.

Initially, the WA Law Society hopes this forum will assist local practitioners come to terms with the new terrain that new and future lawyers will be grappling with.

The session follows the lead of measures taken by other law societies in Queensland, Victoria and NSW, Mr Musikanth said, but with a focus that looks more closely at legal practice.

“We are intending to have a bit more of a targeted focus about the future of the profession so far as it relates to future practice on a day-to-day basis because that’s really what our members are interested in,” Mr Musikanth said.

The forum, to be held on Friday, 19 May, is part of a wider program of events hosted by the WA Law Society during Law Week (15 to 21 May). 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Forum to contemplate AI and future of BigLaw
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 23 2017
Education a passion for YL president
Promoted by University of Melbourne. Melbourne Law Masters student Phoebe Blank is successfully j...
Nov 23 2017
Anti-radicalisation programs playing ‘second fiddle’ to terrorism laws
Several academics have questioned the balance between Australia’s counterterrorism legislation and...
 William Ah Ket
Nov 23 2017
‘Bamboo ceiling’ thought piece wins inaugural law prize
A paper that explores the idea of affirmative action to achieve greater diversity among members of A...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...