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It's not quite R2D2, but it's not just a cute movie robot either.
RPA, for Robotic Process Automation, is the real deal. They are software robots, and they are going to work at the international law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
The firm will put the robots to work managing client information, reviewing contracts and other tasks as fast as they can get trained. That, by the way, is the key to machine learning.
Anything You Can Do
"The law of software robots is: If a person sitting at a computer can do it, then you can pretty much train a software robot to do it," said Pat Geary, chief marketing officer at Blue Prism -- "provider of the world's most successful digital workforce."
Stephen Poor, Seyfarth's chairman emeritus, said RPA can already cut down client onboarding from 35 to four minutes. He said Seyfarth's lawyers will also use the technology for extracting client data, analyzing contracts and managing contract flows.
"I view this as a step in a journey where the challenge is to continuously learn about new techniques," he told the American Lawyer. "And there will be more. I can't tell you what they are, because I don't know yet, but there will be more."
Not Your Father's Law Practice
In one generation, lawyers have gone from manual typewriters to voice-recognizing computers, book research to internet research, walk-in filing to e-filing. Today, they are using analytics programs to do eDiscovery and many other legal tasks.
In the next generation, robots will get smarter. As it evolves, artificial intelligence will use predictive technology to know what lawyers and judges will likely do, when to settle or try cases and more.
But software robots won't be taking your office chair for now. First of all, they don't have bodies.
Not only that, they don't have a sense of humor -- unless you teach them. So choose your programmers wisely.