Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How much of what you do consists of repetitive tasks?

When I think about things I do in a week, almost everything vohod05/07/17
I think it will be longer than 10 years for that kind of aut therewillbeblood05/07/17
In my area the more immediate threat is 2-3 powerhouse firms vohod05/07/17
Nearly every profession is at risk of automation to varying mrtor05/07/17
I've been in litigation for five years and (at least in my a dakotalaw05/07/17
Out of curiosity: Are you in the I-29 corridor or on the Riv vohod05/07/17
I've always said that the irony of the automation of law is thirdtierlaw05/07/17
True. What I have seen in debtor defense that depresses me i vohod05/07/17
When I did real estate it was mostly repetitive tasks. My jo 3lol05/07/17
I frequently find myself working on repetitive tasks. Somet soupcansham05/07/17
Does their influence express itself in other areas of your l 3lol05/07/17
Sometimes. Occasionally. soupcansham05/07/17
I think the bigger immediate threat will come from non-JD/la greenhorn05/07/17
This. But sophisticated work will never go that way. Corpora retard05/10/17
Most of us spend most of our time on rote tasks. If I had so vohod05/10/17
criminal lawyering is like being an artist. defensivelawyer05/07/17
All my repetitive tasks are done by my paras. Basic letters, trollfeeder05/07/17
Contracting officer is an inherently governmental function. flyer1405/07/17
What would you say your job's keyword is in a job search? I vohod05/07/17
1102 flyer1405/08/17
I got some bad news for you. If you're doing work that patenttrollnj05/08/17
I disagree with this. There definitely is the incentive to g retard05/10/17
I should have been a bit more clear. Yes, some young at patenttrollnj05/11/17
But automation would decrease leverage and leverage is how f retard05/11/17
Yes, very true. That makes things even worse for aspiri patenttrollnj05/11/17
I disagree. I don't think it can get much worse without desc retard05/11/17
almost none in my patent law practice because that's why we aspiretoretire05/08/17
Pretty much all of it is repetitive. That was probably my bi ejs201705/08/17
It's nearly all competitive. They expect me to follow their fettywap05/08/17
Open a general litigation solo practice. Every case will be dakotalaw05/10/17
If you work is done a computer then your work can be automat triplesix05/11/17
Click unresponsive and click next. nighthawk05/11/17
I think my job could easily be automated. However, a large p uknownvalue05/11/17
If it's litigation, only discovery can be automated further. dakotalaw05/11/17

vohod (May 7, 2017 - 12:32 pm)

When I think about things I do in a week, almost everything in my 55 hours or so could be accomplished by a computer program within the next decade. I am talking about heavily templated response letters, reviewing client response codes and sending the proper document to OC.

Its all mindless work. Maybe 5-10 hours a week are spent on legal analysis, which firm managers dislike. Keep the slime flowing and the billable activities rolling.

I think any purely claim based rank and file legal work will be gone well before I retire. Probably before I am 40.

Anyone have a game plan on staying ahead of this?

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therewillbeblood (May 7, 2017 - 1:02 pm)

I think it will be longer than 10 years for that kind of automation.

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vohod (May 7, 2017 - 1:14 pm)

In my area the more immediate threat is 2-3 powerhouse firms that have many attorneys making 17-20/hr part time doing these "reviews." Each step of the file's life cycle is managed by "teams." The owners sign the pleadings and discovery on final review, but its done up entirely by quasi-paralegal JDs using sophisticated legal software.

You are correct that it is not automation per se, but once they wipe out the smaller competing firms they have the bandwidth to divide the labor whereas today one guy makes high 5 figures trying to manage it all.

I guess I'm wondering if the only thing to do is pay off debt, stockpile cash in investments, and take the layoff? Try to go into another profession? I am worried but have no idea.

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mrtor (May 7, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

Nearly every profession is at risk of automation to varying extents. If you want to avoid the axe, you simply need to find a position whose duties are not predictable or repetitive, one which requires some degree of judgment or discretion. Just because you do similar tasks all day long does not mean your job is at risk of near-term automation. Reviewing discovery or drafting correspondence is not comparably predictable or repetitive to the duties of a cashier or burger flipper. You need to exercise discretion and judgment on a daily basis to decide how to litigate a case, as each is unpredictable and strategy depends on the underlying facts and circumstances. We may have gotten used to our tasks to the point that we see them as routine, but modern computers are not well positioned to handle the variability of even routine car accident cases at this point.

Long story short, continue to look for more complex practice opportunities, but don't freak out about losing your job any time soon.

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dakotalaw (May 7, 2017 - 1:19 pm)

I've been in litigation for five years and (at least in my areas) I can't think of really anything that could be automated. It's an extremely human endeavor, and each case is different.

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vohod (May 7, 2017 - 1:24 pm)

Out of curiosity: Are you in the I-29 corridor or on the River?

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thirdtierlaw (May 7, 2017 - 2:44 pm)

I've always said that the irony of the automation of law is that the lowest tier lawyers are going to make out the best. Criminal law, family law, etc.

Not sure how a computer can automate, "I found my 55 year old husband with a 17 year old and he has slowly been selling his business equipment to his parents for a $1 per machine."

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vohod (May 7, 2017 - 3:38 pm)

True. What I have seen in debtor defense that depresses me is that in the few years I have practiced on creditor's side the opposing party went from a multitude of attorneys who'd call,email, write letters. The motion practice was actually fun at times for a newbie. Now a "law firm" in NYC and a "legal group" in Denver represent 95% of our represented debtors. The same 3-4 attorneys send a form answer, no letters, form responses to discovery, and you "negotiate" with a call center rep in India.

So true: the Work isn't automated because it isn't possible. But the division of labor is such that said lawyer gets a few hundred bucks to file the answer and the form discovery response. Then they withdraw before motion practice.

A sophisticated investor with a JD would find a way to develop forms both sides can use so as to churn the file, maximize fees on both sides, and require zero attorney review. Likely flies in the face of ethics rules though.

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3lol (May 7, 2017 - 3:11 pm)

When I did real estate it was mostly repetitive tasks. My job now is almost no repetitive tasks.

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soupcansham (May 7, 2017 - 3:30 pm)

I frequently find myself working on repetitive tasks. Sometimes their influence expresses itself in other areas of my life. Sometimes their influence expresses itself in other areas of my life.

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3lol (May 7, 2017 - 3:33 pm)

Does their influence express itself in other areas of your life?

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soupcansham (May 7, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

Sometimes. Occasionally.

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greenhorn (May 7, 2017 - 3:46 pm)

I think the bigger immediate threat will come from non-JD/lawyer legal service providers. I can see the futures where certain legal tasks are completed by paralegal types that get licensed to practice for a far lower cost than a lawyer going to law school. A concept similar to what medicine is seeing with the advent of the NP and PA.

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retard (May 10, 2017 - 9:59 pm)

This. But sophisticated work will never go that way. Corporations will always want high priced and well-credentialed attorneys to cover themselves and high net worth individual clients will always want attorneys who they perceive as connected and able to get them what they want.

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vohod (May 10, 2017 - 10:04 pm)

Most of us spend most of our time on rote tasks. If I had sophisticated work I wouldn't have time to poast or my lack of income.

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defensivelawyer (May 7, 2017 - 4:54 pm)

criminal lawyering is like being an artist.

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trollfeeder (May 7, 2017 - 7:07 pm)

All my repetitive tasks are done by my paras. Basic letters, form pleadings, calendaring. I do all the non repetitive stuff. If you are at the bottom of a food chain, there will be repetitive tasks, the risk of having no skills is a lot greater than automation.

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flyer14 (May 7, 2017 - 8:56 pm)

Contracting officer is an inherently governmental function. My job isn't going anywhere. That's my way of staying ahead of the game: even if they hire more service contractors, someone needs to do the negotiating on the government side.

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vohod (May 7, 2017 - 10:03 pm)

What would you say your job's keyword is in a job search? I am looking in WI, IA, NE, or MN and get nowhere.

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flyer14 (May 8, 2017 - 12:26 am)

1102

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patenttrollnj (May 8, 2017 - 1:14 am)

I got some bad news for you.

If you're doing work that any secretary can do, chances are you'll never advance beyond that .... and eventually you'll just be let go by your firm when it's cheaper for them to just hire a younger attorney right out of law school to do the same mindless stuff.

Unfortunately, there isn't any incentive to groom attorneys. We're cheap commodities that can easily be replaced with even cheaper ones. The only reason they have us doing the templates (rather than have secretaries do it) is because attorneys get to bill the client at an attorney's rate (rather than the paralegal rate). Thus, firms make more money off of us.

This is why firms have 5 to maybe 10 times the number of associates to partners. All these associates are eventually weeded-out, and generally don't last more than 5 years (although, maybe a bit longer in smaller firms).

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retard (May 10, 2017 - 9:57 pm)

I disagree with this. There definitely is the incentive to groom attorneys. Older partners will want to slow down one day without fully retiring (so they can continue to get paid). If no associates are groomed to do the heavy lifting work that the partner wants to escape the partner cannot continue to collect origination bonuses and a salary if he wants to play golf 4 times a week.

Also an automated system means you can't bill for associates' time, which is how these places make money.

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patenttrollnj (May 11, 2017 - 9:36 am)

I should have been a bit more clear.

Yes, some young attorneys do get groomed. However, most do not, and if you're still doing mindless paperwork after 5 or so years, things don't look good for your long-term prospects.

Most (dare I say the vast majority of) young attorneys are mere commodities easily discarded.

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retard (May 11, 2017 - 1:48 pm)

But automation would decrease leverage and leverage is how firms make money.

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patenttrollnj (May 11, 2017 - 5:10 pm)

Yes, very true.

That makes things even worse for aspiring lawyers.

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retard (May 11, 2017 - 6:21 pm)

I disagree. I don't think it can get much worse without descending into physical abuse or slavery.

Law firms are basically a business selling a product. The product (and only product) being sold is billable hours. Associates are basically living manufacturing facilities. They produce billable hours, which is then sold to the end consumer. The manufacturing facility has to be on the same level as the product desired by the customer or the business breaks down. What I mean is that if your customers want a cheap low cost utility product to fill a simple need, it doesn't make sense for the firm to buy a state the art manufacturing facility. Why buy the Rolex facility if your customers only want Timex?

An associate, like a machine, can be neglected and abused to a certain point but there is a base level where the machine will breakdown and stop producing its widget. At that point you will have to buy a new machine. For some firms the economics of that work i.e. it's cheaper to bring on and train a new associate every six months than to keep the machine running. However, most firms cannot follow that model successfully and ultimately close shop. There are some firms that can truly flourish like that, but not many.

I think that the incentive against law firms automating is strong and a net positive for current and aspiring attorneys. That's not to say however law is a good profession for most to enter but hey, it beats digging graves.

Enough of my drivel.

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aspiretoretire (May 8, 2017 - 4:43 am)

almost none in my patent law practice because that's why we have paras and secretaries that bill out under $100/hr

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ejs2017 (May 8, 2017 - 10:11 am)

Pretty much all of it is repetitive. That was probably my biggest shock coming out of law school when I discovered how much of litigation practice is basically sausage factory work with very little intellectual stimulation, at least in my case. Pleadings, discovery responses, motion practice, depositions and even trials follow form.

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fettywap (May 8, 2017 - 10:43 am)

It's nearly all competitive. They expect me to follow their forms and idiot way of thinking. That's why I'm so bored I want to die.

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dakotalaw (May 10, 2017 - 9:23 pm)

Open a general litigation solo practice. Every case will be different. It's stressful, but it's not boring.

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triplesix (May 11, 2017 - 9:58 am)

If you work is done a computer then your work can be automated within next decade that means all lawyers outside of jury trial lawyers but keep telling yourself that you safe. That's what lame ass middle class whites did in the 90's look how well it worked for them and their children, all that education haha

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nighthawk (May 11, 2017 - 10:00 am)

Click unresponsive and click next.

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uknownvalue (May 11, 2017 - 3:35 pm)

I think my job could easily be automated. However, a large portion of the population is almost illiterate, which is a problem for society, however it does mean job security for lawyers, like me, who serve the under-educated class of society.

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dakotalaw (May 11, 2017 - 6:00 pm)

If it's litigation, only discovery can be automated further. Humans will never accept robots arguing about what is reasonable. It's a human thing run by humans.

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