“What a Law Firm will look like in 2118” by Bernard Selom Ayite (1st Runner-up LSU Blog Legal Writing Competition)

I could tell you exactly what we should have done, and how much greater we could have been. For instance, I can tell you that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and was ousted after one term in office. I could also tell you that Elon Musk’s’ vision came to fruition after all, and the first human colony successfully moved to Mars in 2063, or that oil, gold and platinum are not the most valuable commodities in 2085, but rather variations of organically produced crop.

Some might call me a clairvoyant; others might say I am bestowed with the gift of precognition, perhaps even a seer of sort’s.

Unfortunately, nothing as fancy as the aforementioned: my gift is ‘the beauty of hindsight’ to quote the old adage, or more accurately the benefit of history. This is the part where my bold claims become facts, for the answer to your thorough confusion is simple.

 I write to you in the year 2118.

The law firms of old were slow to change and seemingly stuck in their ways. As hard as they tried to preserve the voluminous paperful lustre of the legal profession, in the end, they were not immune to the disruption of technology.

Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning have dramatically affected the jobs and functions of legal professionals. The use of robotics and algorithms has automated routine jobs and thus led to the extinction of certain key roles, most poignant of which is the paralegal. Research and E-discovery is accessible on demand, with algorithms programmed to find case law and precedent relevant to building a client’s case.  

No longer do we see endless rows and spaces dedicated to the storage of books, layered with the dust of time. Cloud computing and E-libraries have changed that completely. There no longer exists that archaic data stick called a pen drive. Everything is accessible on mental command linked to a native cloud database. Indeed, I did not actually ‘write’ this letter with a pen as was the norm in your day; I did not even type this. Today, law firms use a device that transcribes thought into visual notes, we call this process menscription.

Law firms charging exorbitant legal fees are now a firm fixture of the past. Technology has drastically cut costs by allowing increased legal accessibility: Virtual teams, e-contract discovery and alternative fee pricing models have eroded hitherto expensive billable hours.

To allay your fears, robots do not make better lawyers. The noble profession is still very much “humana dispensata”.

What we do have now are highly skilled lawyers providing high value legal guidance and advisory services, based on the lawyer’s individual mental capacity and innate skill, determined by natural affinity and genetic makeup. Law is no longer a profession where the average man can be trained to practice, but rather a ‘talent’ that individuals are born with. This is the state of your first love and beloved profession of law.

 

Yours Truly,

Your great grand-son

Bernadine S. Ayite III