Technology that improves the quality and efficiency of legal work will be stymied as long as hourly billing prevails among attorneys. At least that’s my belief.
Why do I say that?
- Hourly quotas for attorneys encourage more lawyer time per task;
- This motivates a proliferation of lawyers on any given task — each lawyer with their own hourly quota; and
- This proliferation leads to insertion of recent law graduates alongside fully qualified attorneys to do the routine & repetitive work for which law clerks or paralegals are suited — but billed to clients at several hundred dollars per hour.
A profession that gets paid more when its work takes longer, that gets paid even better when it assigns more people to do that work, and that charges clients for training its junior personnel — will lose money using a system that improves the quality or efficiency of that work.
Pretty straightforward, I think.
Last week I heard from a couple of others on this.
On December 6 I attended “Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise (Legal Services Version)”, sponsored by the Law and Technology Initiative of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering.