The rise of artificial intelligence could create a ripple effect across the legal industry, putting law school students out of entry-level jobs before even entering the workforce and stripping them of necessary experience to become good lawyers, an attorney of over 20 years said.
“What concerns me is that you’re going to have a whole bunch of people coming out of law school with huge loans, which we already know is a crisis, and they’re going to be outsourced by this artificial intelligence,” Bryan Rotella, attorney and founder of GenCo Legal, told Fox News. “I don’t know that anyone’s warning them of that.”
As AI is increasingly incorporated into industries like health care, financial services and the legal field, Rotella said there are many ways this technology can be used to aid professionals. In law, it’s being used to draft and review contracts, scan through documents and conduct legal research, which dramatically helps increase productivity, reduce errors and cut down on billable hours, saving clients’ money.
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“The really more basic type of stuff that, with due respect, has been done by a lot of paralegals and not necessarily attorneys over the last 50 or 60 years,” Rotella said.
While implementing AI more for these functions will boost efficiency and cut costs for law firms, Rotella said he’s concerned that moving to rely on technology for these essential tasks will strip legal assistants and young lawyers of the training they need to gain experience.
“There’s this myth of a prepackaged lawyer,” he said. “When folks come out of law school, you know what we’re prepared to do? Pass the bar exam if we’re lucky, not to be lawyers.”
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“You’re going to have folks come out, pass the bar exam and find out that the job that the law firm is hiring them for, really, the AI is more qualified than they are,” he added. “When are they going to then get that experience they need to get over years to grow in a profession?”
With over 115,000 students attending a U.S. law school in 2022, there’s roughly one law student for every 10 active lawyers in the country. Law firms also began shrinking their workforce at the end of last year due to declining demand for legal services, rising costs and a difficult economic environment.
Rotella, who specializes in providing personal counsel to businesses, said if law firms have less need for paralegals to do their labor-intensive, entry-level tasks, it could be difficult for recent graduates to find employment even with a degree. He predicted that this development could have a serious impact on the number of law students.
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“Maybe this is a good thing,” he said. “Maybe it’s going to right-size what’s gotten out of control which is a lot of folks going to law school, taking out loans that they probably wish they hadn’t.”
“Maybe we’re going to have a resetting as to who actually wants to make a career out of being an attorney as compared to just going to law school because they wanted to do something after college,” Rotella added.
To watch the full interview with Rotella, click here.