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Technology lawyers specialize in understanding the legal and commercial aspects of AI, machine learning, and automation tools. Yet, tech-related issues come up in all legal areas, making it vital for all lawyers to gain a basic understanding of the technologies they and their clients use.

Whether they’re focused on email, e-discovery, or something else entirely, we now see judges, arbitrators, and regulators asking lawyers to explain:

  1. The specific technologies they or their clients use and why they use them
  2. The related business impacts and legal ramifications of the tools
  3. The methods used to comply with regulations, mitigate risks, and implement best practices

Let’s look at employment law as one area where lawyers must understand tech-related issues. As we’ll see, nearly every lawyer now must embrace the technical aspects of modern AI tools to remain competitive and take on new projects in our ever-changing tech landscape.

Why lawyers need to pay attention to AI in employment law

Nearly 1 in 4 organizations use automation or AI to support HR-related activities such as recruitment and hiring, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Resume screening tools can quickly analyze resumes to identify ideal candidates. AI can deliver analytics that rank the most suitable candidates. Automation speeds up many recruitment and hiring communication activities. 

These beneficial tools also bring risks. AI-driven processes can lack transparency, making it difficult to learn why decisions were made. AI tools could base decisions on race, age, or gender, which is illegal under anti-discrimination laws. In SHRM’s report, only 2 in 5 employers indicated their technology providers are clear about bias-prevention procedures. The ambiguity can also make it difficult to demonstrate compliance with laws, leading to penalties.

The call for a mindset shift to embrace AI 

Employment lawyers may now encounter discrimination lawsuits over skewed data and defective AI algorithms. But what success can anyone expect if lawyers don’t comprehend the basics of how AI employs machine learning algorithms and data? 

You can call a lawyer specializing in technology to take over a project. But employment lawyers who wish to retain client work will need to embrace the technical aspects of modern technology tools as they become ubiquitous. 

This doesn’t require a complete educational overhaul but rather a willingness to learn and adapt. In the age of AI, understanding the nuances of technology tools empowers lawyers to continue to provide quality legal services that meet client needs. 

Technology affects many areas of law.

We already see more areas of law where technology affects legal practice, including:

  • Social media data in criminal cases and civil litigation
  • IP protection against digital counterfeiting and product piracy
  • Digital real estate transactions and asset transfers
  • Digital assets in prenuptial agreements and estate administration
  • Smart contracts that automate business transactions

And we will continue to see lawyers rely on technology in their daily work using tools like: 

  • Case management systems to track deadlines and tasks
  • Cloud-based document management systems to share and collaborate on legal documents
  • Ediscovery tools for data normalization, deduplication, review, and classification
  • Online dispute resolution platforms to settle conflicts

And much more. In fact, the ABA confirms that firms are spending more than ever on software, with costs reaching $14,106 on average in 2022 compared to $9,329 in 2019.

Author: Bill Tilley, Practi Pulse TM. Read on LinkedIn.