Legal Technology

Are you smarter than a robot? Lawyers, surgeons make list of jobs being replaced by computers

  • Print


Image from Shutterstock.

In past years, blue-collar jobs were most threatened by automation.

But white-collar jobs–including lawyer jobs–are also on the line, Forbes reports.

IBM’s Watson computer has already demonstrated its prowess at Jeopardy and has bested humans in diagnosing lung cancer. The ramifications have produced a “drumbeat of worry,” Forbes says. The story cites a grim estimate by University of Oxford researchers that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be taken over by computers by 2033.

Forbes lists five professional jobs that are already being threatened by automation. They are:

1) E-discovery lawyers and law-firm associates. The story notes the role of software programs in e-discovery. “It’s also conceivable in the near future,” the story says, “that a legally-trained Watson might be able to construct a system with a vast store of cases and precedent and create drafts of briefs – the sort of research and writing work generally handled by associates in law firms.”

Statistical computer models could also be used to predict likely litigation outcomes, Forbes says.

2) Financial and sports reporters. The Associated Press has experimented with using software to automatically create corporate earnings reports, and its sports department has used automation to generate reports for events with small audiences.

3) Online marketers. Software can be used to determine which email subject lines will get the best response and which wording will have the best emotional appeal.

4) Anesthesiologists, surgeons and diagnosticians. Software can automate the delivery of low-level anesthesia, diagnose disease and perform low-invasive procedures.

5) Financial analysts and advisers. Computers can predict investment performance and manage investment accounts.

Related articles:

ABA “10 predictions about how IBM’s Watson will impact the legal profession”

ABA Journal: “Seeing the possibilities of automation, Tim Hwang is working toward the death of practice-as-usual”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.