Legal news publication Law360 Pulse reached out to Pablo Arredondo, cofounder and Chief Innovation Officer at Casetext, to weigh in on the potential impact of AI on the roles of paralegals and legal assistants.
Representatives from the National Paralegal Association (NALA) and top-tier law firms Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Baker McKenzie, and Goodwin Procter also provided their perspectives, along with ClearyX, a tech subsidiary of law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
While some worry that AI could replace paralegals and legal assistants, most seem to agree that it is more likely to simply change the nature of their work. “Our paralegals and support staff will probably need a whole new set of skills to be a part” of the convergence of technology and the practice of law, Rachel Dooley, Chief Innovation Officer at Goodwin in New York, told Sarah Martinson at Law360 Pulse.
Debbie Overstreet, President of NALA, agreed. “Rather than thinking that [AI] is going to eliminate jobs, I think it is just going to be another tool in our toolbox to make it more efficient,” she said.
Perhaps the most interesting perspective comes from Casetext’s CIO, Pablo Arredondo. Arredondo argues AI will have a “profound impact” on both attorneys and paralegals. “The most successful law practices will be the ones that use AI to free up time and then best leverage that time,” said Arrendondo, suggesting the key to success will be to adopt AI as a tool to improve efficiency, rather than fearing it as a potential job-killer.
Another key point made by several experts is that AI is likely to automate some tasks, but not replace the need for human workers altogether. Gary Friedman, a partner at Weil Gotshal, argues that many of the traditional roles of the paralegal will continue to be eroded by automation, but that critical thinking and complex problem-solving tasks will still require human input.
Arredondo agreed, noting that other paralegal and legal assistant tasks that can’t be replaced by generative AI include witness interviews, vendor management, and oversight of the technology itself.
Danielle Benecke, head of Baker McKenzie’s machine learning practice, said that AI cannot complete paralegal and legal assistance tasks that involve judgment or reasoning. “Once you’re at that exercise of judgment and legal reasoning level . . . proposing to a lawyer how we might run a complex matter from a process standpoint, how we might design a workflow—all of that is still right now very much held by human decision-makers,” Benecke said.
Friedman and Carla Swansburg, CEO of ClearyX, both agreed that the interactions paralegals and legal assistants have with clients won’t be replaced by AI. “If you are a law firm who cares about the client experience, I don’t think you’re going to be able to automate that away anytime soon,” Swanburg noted.
To read the article, visit Law360 Pulse.
Casetext has led innovation in legal AI since 2013, applying cutting-edge AI to the law to create solutions that enable attorneys to provide higher-quality representation to more clients and gain a competitive advantage. Casetext’s contributions in legal AI have been recognized worldwide, including the development of the first large language model trained on law. Today, over 10,000 law firms—from solos and small practices to more than 40 Am Law 200 firms—rely on Casetext to elevate the quality of their law practice.
Learn more at casetext.com.