Peter Rouse, in his best-selling book, Fragile: Mastering the Relationships That Can Make or Break a Career, and a Firm, says that the end of lawyers is not in fact nigh - they need instead to focus on building relationships and developing emotional intelligence.
Despite a few rejoicing at the new technology pervading our lives, many within the legal marketplace appear to be fearful of what lies ahead - including, inevitably, automation of many back office functions and simple legal transactions, for example, the chatbot assisting individuals who wish to challenge parking tickets. Increasingly, we may see AI starting to carry out complex legal tasks as well - IBM is leading the way with its Watson computer.
Rouse points out that lawyers can best secure their future by focusing on their relationships with colleagues, collaborators and clients that engender trust. Those who recognise and anticipate the advance of AI will develop their capacity for emotional intelligence, including personal as well as organisational authenticity and integrity, that sets them apart from what a computer can deliver.
The future will indeed look bleak for lawyers who see their expertise as centred in knowing law and regulation as the pace of AI accelerates and the cost comes down. Smart lawyers will recognise that their future security and earning capacity rests in their ability to counsel their clients with sensitivity to their very human concerns and drives, providing something that robotic and largely scripted interactions will, I like to think, never quite achieve.