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03 November 2017 at 11:39 BST

BigLaw benefits as automation cuts legal jobs by 20 per cent

Legal jobs will decline by 20 per cent as automation takes hold of the legal marketplace but productivity will grow.

Kheng Ho Toh

Automation could see 67000 legal jobs disappear in 20 years in the UK but escalating demand for legal services could offset the losses, according to a legal sector forecast. 'We’re seeing the first evidence of how AI and automation will transform the sector,' Law Society president Joe Egan says, adding that productivity growth would double, particularly in large firms. The forecasters said that firms' productivity (output per person employed) would jump from the current 1.2 per cent per year to 2.4 per cent per year within a decade, reflecting the long-term rate previously seen in the rest of the economy.

Net exports

There was good news on net exports of legal services, which the forecasters said could increase in 2017 and 2018 as the depreciation of the pound’s exchange rate makes UK-based law firms more competitive internationally. They also predicted that during the short-to-medium term Brexit would result in increased legal work and that the UK legal services marketplace would enjoy modest growth in the next three years. 

 
   
 
 
 

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