Lawyers given lesson in how to show their soft side as they face robot competition

Lawyers given lesson in how to show their soft side as they face robot competition
Lawyers given lesson in how to show their soft side as they face robot competition

 

Via: The Telegraph; by: Lydia Willgress

Click here to download the full article in The Telegraph

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Lawyers have been given a lesson in how to show their emotional side amid rising concerns about robot competition.

Fifty solicitors from Vario, the legal resourcing branch of international law firm Pinsent Masons, tonight completed emotional intelligence training in a bid to “polish up their human skills”.

The one-hour course, held in London, included information on how to create the right impression, build relationships and fit in, as well as interactive workshops on how to build a “personal brand”.

We’re in an almost futuristic age where human lawyers will soon have to start seriously considering how to differentiate themselves from these new robot competitors” said Matthew Kay.

The course comes after BakerHostetler, a US company, hired a robot lawyer called ROSS to help with the firm’s bankruptcy practice. ROSS can read, process language and formulate hypothesis. He can also search millions of databases for facts and conclusions.

It also comes after London-based Berwin Leighton Paisner announced that LONald, a “contract robot” that can extract data from Land Registry documents, was being used by its real estate team after the firm developed it in conjunction with technology company RAVN.

Matthew Kay, the director of Vario, said the time had come for lawyers to “seriously consider” how to differentiate themselves from robot competitors.

“We’re in an almost futuristic age,” he said. “Forming close and meaningful relationships with clients has always been hugely important in the legal sector, but with the rise of artificial intelligence and robots carrying out tasks in law firms, it will become more vital than ever for firms to ensure all their lawyers sharpen their own emotional intelligence.”

Tonight’s training, which was free, is just one part of a system put in place by the firm to capitalise on employees’ emotional intelligence and skills.

Whilst we have proven that technology is capable of reproducing some of the logic and legal reasoning that lawyers perform, it will be a long time – if ever – before it replaces the softer side, the empathetic side of what lawyers do Richard Seabrook.

New starters at Vario also have to complete personality tests, with the results used to match them to “their perfect assignments”.

“An ideal contract lawyer is flexible, good under pressure and has fantastic people skills,” Mr Kay added. “We have found that, by asking a series of specific questions, we can accurately predict how an individual will fare in different situations and therefore match the lawyers to their perfect assignment.”

Richard Seabrook, the European managing director for Neota Logic, which develops artificial intelligence platforms, said emotional intelligence training was a highly-important part of improving a lawyer’s skillset.

But he said he believed the concept of robot lawyers was “a bit of a myth”, adding: “What we expect will happen, indeed is already happening, is increasing elements of what lawyers do being replaced by technology such as research, document review and client collaboration.

“Whilst we have proven that technology is capable of reproducing some of the logic and legal reasoning that lawyers perform, it will be a long time – if ever – before it replaces the softer side, the empathetic side of what lawyers do.”

 

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