Don't look now, but robots are already taking your legal work.
According to reports, the legal sector lost 4,300 jobs in July. The ABA Journal based its report on numbers from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows an overall decline of 4 points over the past 12 months.
The story goes deeper, however. The same jobs report shows that professional and technical services jumped almost 18 points over the same time period.
That's right, you heard it here first: a robot took your paralegal job.
Meet Watson and Ross
Ever since Watson proved he was better at Jeopardy than any human, smart technology has been creeping up on the legal industry. The law prophets saw it coming, too.
In January, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 23 percent of a lawyer's job can be automated. The New York Times said artificial intelligence won't replace lawyers -- yet.
But the future is now for paralegals. Actually, it started last year when ROSS Intelligence went to work for a handful of law firms throughout the United States.
ROSS, using IBM's Watson, does in seconds what would take a human hours. BakerHostetler put the software robot to work on bankruptcy cases, reviewing documents and producing relevant law.
Now TurboPatent has launched a smart technology to review patent claims and make predictions about patent eligibility. The patent drafting software automates paralegal work.
"Typically this review is done by humans doing multiple searches," says James Billmaier, TurboPatent's chief executive officer. "Very seasoned attorneys are amazed at things the machine finds that they miss in these very technically written documents."
The robots help lawyers write responses to patent office actions. SmartShell creates a formatted response, and RapidResponse generates text to submit amended patent claims.