Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Experts Say 23% of Lawyers’ Work Can Be Automated—Law Schools Are Trying To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

CNBC, Experts Say 23% of Lawyers’ Work Can Be Automated—Law Schools Are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve:

Go to law school, pass the bar, become a lawyer and retire at 65 with a gold watch? For decades, this was one of the clearest professional pathways students could pursue, but that’s changing.

While law school graduates out-earn those with just a high school or bachelor’s degree on average, the legal profession is not immune to the same technological trends that have touched essentially every industry.

Advances in technology such as artificial intelligence allow modern software to scan legal documents, streamline communications and find relevant casework for lawyers. McKinsey estimates that 23% of work done by lawyers can be automated by existing technology.

The cost of law school, like the cost of undergraduate programs, has steadily increased over the past several decades, making it more expensive for students to consider a profession in law.

Among the 187 law schools that report tuition and fees data to U.S. News & World Report, the average for annual tuition and fees during the 2018-2019 academic year was $48,869 at private law schools, $40,725 at public law schools for out-of-state students and $27,591 at public law schools for in-state students.

These costs reflect a significant increase from previous decades. According to data from the American Bar Association, in 1985, tuition cost roughly $7,526 at private law schools and $2,006 at public law schools. Adjusted for inflation, these costs would be closer to $17,871 and $4,763 today. ...

At the UCLA School of Law, often considered one of the best public law schools in the country, administrators believe that addressing costs is essential to addressing the existential questions that face law schools.

In December of 2019, UCLA Law School announced the launch of a one-year Master of Legal Studies program which would provide students with a master’s degree, but not a law degree, at a fraction of the cost, and in a fraction of the time.

“There’s an enormous number of people who engage with the law, who need to work with lawyers, who need to know a decent amount about the law for what they do, but they don’t actually need the license,” Jennifer Mnookin, dean of the Law School at UCLA tells CNBC Make It. “They don’t need to be lawyers.” ...

in the competition to attract top students, law schools are racing to increase the value that they provide.

“Law schools face a dynamic that is true across universities right now, which is that students are looking for investments in student services and support that are quite valuable, but also do serve to increase costs,” says Mnookin, pointing to student wellness programs, small classes with hands-on learning and robust professional services. “These are all really good things, and I think they’ve made law school a stronger student experience than it was a generation ago, but none of that comes free.”

Another way law schools are working to increase their value proposition is by offering more lifelong learning resources.

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But but but a peer-reviewed study focusing on law grads from the 1990s strenuously said that work conditions can never change for lawyers in the future because [reasoning omitted from said study] so surely we have nothing to worry about!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 17, 2020 9:17:40 AM

Professor Damodaran, who knows a thing or two about value, has shown that maybe *90%* of what law schools provide students can be automated, by generously sharing his presentations online with millions of people. This frees up more of his finite time for original writing and interactive dialogue, that NYU also offers as part of a reasonably priced hybrid recorded lecture / live / correspondence "Advanced Valuation certificate" course.

Employers should be receptive to these kinds of training options, with appropriate testing - and seize the opportunity to out-compete old-school stragglers. And citizens can demand that their governments move away from subsidizing expensive and often arbitrary "traditional" schooling and requiring it for professional certifications. Break free from the "Dream Hoarders!"

Posted by: Anand Desai | Feb 12, 2020 3:57:17 PM