Why Smart Machines Can Be a Lawyer’s New Best Friend

published on Legal Technology

The lines between technology and humans are beginning to blur in the legal field. While growth is a main priority for companies in any sector, there has been much debate in the business world about which work is more suited for humans, robots and smart machines. However, businesses won’t be able to gain a competitive advantage just by inserting technologies into existing processes and hope the work gets done faster. A report by Gartner discusses how decision makers should rethink how work is done and lists three main recommendations so customers, partners, and employees can make the most of the newly digitized product or service. This means reconsidering the entire set of processes through which value is created, delivered, and experienced.

Reinvent key operational processes by rethinking what “work” will create and deliver the value of newly digitized products and services:

The goal of work automation is to standardize repeatable tasks traditionally performed by humans into tasks that can be performed by computers, which allows them to become scalable in terms of volume and efficiency. By automating manual, repetitive activities, digital technologies can now be applied to cognitive work, and newer technologies can supplement or even be a substitute for human cognition. In this way, work previously performed by humans can now be performed by smart machines, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of variation and the context of how work is handled. Another method of digitization is equipping items with sensors (think cars, buildings and digital images) and other digital technologies to enhance decision-making and actions by delivering data in real-time.


Rethink which resources can best deliver value:

The companies that will have the largest competitive advantage are the ones that are able to effectively distribute machine workload across software, robots and smart machines. However, business decision makers should be aware that they have an increasing number of options and resources to choose from. Furthermore, when it comes to adapting to situations, people are better because of their ability to distinguish unique situations. While a smart machine could select a jury using big data and analytics, lawyers would still be needed during a trial to deal with the interaction between the judge, witnesses, and jurors. Business decision makers should rethink how work is done by appointing routine and low-intelligence work to machines in order to allow humans to do work that keeps them more engaged and allows them to effectively contribute to the company.

Rethink whether exceptions may actually reflect positive motivations to be explored as part of the reinvention effort:

A traditional approach to process automation has been to choose a path and stick to it, but in practice, people tend to go off road when the environment or context changes. Technologies, such as automated business process discovery tools can expose alternative paths and can even apply formulas to determine how often people tend to choose these exceptions. Business decision makers should interview employees to discover why they handle certain tasks differently than the options supported in the current software design.


There’s no doubt that some of the things lawyers do will soon turn into automated processes. The strategy that will work in the long-term is if lawyers view smart machines as their partners, instead of enemies that are forcing people out of their jobs. The way organizations can stay ahead of the legal game is by embracing change and looking for ways to add more value. These strategies aren’t mutually exclusive; they can be mixed and matched so they are the right fit for your organization’s culture.