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Will this be the year lawyers are replaced by computers? Are law firm destined to be attacked by hackers in 2016? We hope not!
In the spirit of camaraderie, we feel it's our obligation to highlight some of the most likely legal predictions for 2016.
"Skynet" and Human Obsolescence
Remember how we laughed in the late 80s and early 90s when the Terminator franchise (when it was good) fleshed out this bleak picture of the future inhabited by a computer system called "Skynet" that waged war on humanity? Well we're not there yet, but lawyers are not laughing. Artificial intelligence has progressed at predictably scary speeds.
If you're a young associate looking for a job at a midsized firm, you've been supplanted. Others opine that computers have already started replacing lawyers. No one has proposed a "destroy the machine" approach (ala, the luddites) -- probably because they know that would be useless. So far, a quiet acquiescence seems best.
Cybersecurity and Law-Firm "Big Data"
Another area of concern is that of cyber-security. Law firms are worried about it. Heck, now terrorists have gone hacker and it's really scaring the heck out of people. At the large law firms, there was an 80 percent chance you woke up one morning and got the morning memo: Yay! We've been hacked! There seems to be little unanimity as to what should be done or indeed -- what can be done as to this growing threat. Technology and interconnectedness has made us more efficient at what we do, but also more vulnerable to attack. Maybe 2016 will top 2015 with regards to cyberattacks.
Non-Lawyer Legal Services
There has been a growing trend of moving away from lawyers for one's legal needs. FindLaw itself is a bit of an alternative legal services service, and there are dozens and dozens out there. Legal Document Analysts, for example, do not have a JD, but often have the benefit of years spent as a working paralegal. There are also legal packages that people can purchase from alternative sources that have either forced more traditional attorneys to restructure their own fees or even what services they offer. Attorneys did not have to worry about these concerns so much in years past.
In general, those who have any opinion at all about the 2016 legal industry predictions don't really agree about how the above mentioned areas will change the industry. They all seem to agree, however, that they're changing things.