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2047: the latest batch of trainees arrive at the office.


Lawyers of the future could have electronic chips implanted in their brains, making them more efficient and allowing them to bill by "units of attention", according to a report commissioned by the Law Society. 

Embedded chips will become the "iPhone of the future" for lawyers, claims the report 'Neurotechnology, Law and the Legal Profession,' which was penned by professor Allan McCay of the University of Sydney.

Neurotechnology is an electronic device which interacts with the nervous system. It can be accessed by a user wearing a headset or wristband, or even having a chip implanted in the brain. It is used to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease or epilepsy. Elon Musk is one business magnate to see the potential for growth, as he has invested in neurotechnology over recent years.

The report said that changes to billing "may be brought about by the attention-monitoring capacities of neurotechnologies".  Which could "prompt a move from billable hours" to "billable units of attention,” making creative narrative entries in invoices a thing of the past. 

The technology could also enhance the capacity and ability of a lawyer to deal with complex matters, and therefore reduce the number of people and costs for a legal matter. Or it could create a swathe of joyless beings unable to skive for even a couple of hours because their own brain snitches on them to HR.

Richard Susskind, a legal profession futurist, said that some AI systems were already outperforming junior lawyers for tasks such as document reviewing. “In the long run, we’ll all be digitally enhanced," said Susskind. "The only question is whether that processing and storage is inside or outside our bodies.”

The Law Society's director of strategy, Kion Ahadi, said in the report that the "debate on whether and how we should make our brains ready to be 'plugged' into technical devices must begin today", noting that “any such fusion poses interesting and complex ethical and legal issues”.

Some ethical issues highlighted in the report include concerns about "mental privacy" with organisations having access to "brain data", which could give "rise to a power to manipulate people". Although this might be the perfect sales pitch for management at some firms. 

And, in the style of a Black Mirror episode, the report also considered whether, in the future, a defendant accused of criminal behaviour might argue that it was a result of having their neurotech device or brain hacked; which could also be an interesting defence for solicitors hauled before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for misconduct. 

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Comments

Anonymous 19 August 22 09:16

In our firm the Managing Partner already thinks too many fee earners are “robotic”. By that he means they have organised their day and prioritised their workload, so aren’t very receptive when he tries to distance himself from his latest cock up by dumping it on their desk. 

Gobblepig 19 August 22 09:32

Uh-huh. We already have things that can do this. They're called computers and they have not exactly led to less document churning. There is no way that law firms are going to be sticking chips into the heads of junior staff - too expensive, too risky and too liable to leave the firm and take that investment with them. Plus, if Susskind is predicting this then you know it's never going to happen. 

Sensible 19 August 22 09:34

Law Society continues to perform its essential function I see…

Also how does Richard Susskind get so much air time? He’s been banging on about “the future” of the law for a decade and people seem to keep paying him for his unique insight, which seems to boil down to “there will be increasing automation of bulk tasks and consolidation of mid-market law firms”.

Professor Fink 19 August 22 09:45

I predict that within 100 years, lawyers will be twice as efficient, ten thousand times larger, and so well paid that only the 5 richest law firms of Europe will own them. 

Hackaforte 19 August 22 10:28

I'd very much like to see the convoluted logic that will (supposedly) allow an invasive surgical procedure to be a contractual term of employment.

If it isn't, who would voluntarily have one?

Mind you, I wonder if there's going to be a cool Terminator-style visual display?

 

+++++CORPORATE WELLBEING REMINDER+++++

TIME = 2100 HOURS

ATTENTION HOURS TODAY = 12.67

MEAL BREAKS = 27 MINUTES TOTAL

WE REMIND YOU TO CONSIDER WORK/LIFE BALANCE

LOGOUT Y/N?

 

+++++COUNTERMANDED+++++

THIS DEAL = ESSENTIAL

YOU = NON-ESSENTIAL

PARTNERBOT INVITES YOU TO DRAW OWN CONCLUSIONS

ADDITIONAL: TED = STILL HERE. TED = PARTNER MATERIAL DUE TO PERCEIVED COMMITMENT TO LAWTECHCOM.COM

YOU = UNSURE. FURTHER DEMONSTRATION OF COMMITMENT REQUIRED

 

+++++ALERT - BODY CAFFEINE AT DANGEROUS LEVELS+++++

 

BananasInPyjamas 19 August 22 10:29

I predict that in about 10 years, Richard Susskind will be replaced by a quantum computer designed to predict the future of the legal profession. 

Buzzword 19 August 22 10:47

This is most likely something so utterly stupid from the Law Society again that I'm not even going to read it.

Anonymous 19 August 22 11:36

"I predict that in about 10 years, Richard Susskind will be replaced by a quantum computer designed to predict the future of the legal profession"

Well, that or a room full of monkeys and a box of flashcards with random words printed on them. Which would probably give us outcomes that are an improvement on his performance to date.

The key determinant will be whether the price of bananas and cardboard rises faster than the price of electricity.

 

 

Or, to really gaze into the future, Professor Susskind could - within ten years time - have hand implants inserted into his forearms to enable him to toil the fields growing and harvesting bananas faster, thereby allowing him to feed whole buildings full of monkeys with his own labours alone. Thereby enabling the creation of tens of staggeringly brilliant predictions even more informative than his latest one.

Anonymous 19 August 22 11:36

No, wait.

I realise now that all of the above was really stupid.

What the future will actually have in it is brain chips for university professors. Who could, within this decade and our lifetimes, have chips inserted into their brains that automatically detect when they're thinking up seemingly deliberately absurd ideas in an effort to get themselves attention in the press to boost their own profile. Chips which could be linked, via extremely thin filament cords running down their spinal columns, to electrical units fitted to their testicles which would then deliver high-voltage shocks to their genitals whenever such an idea was detected. Such technology has the potential to eradicate junk publications in our lifetimes, saving countless tons of paper, and countless hours spent reading this kind of publicity-seeking junk by the general public.

Gobblepig 19 August 22 12:06

Additional stupidity in the newspapers, which reported this story as allowing London lawyers who charge £1,000 per hour to review documents more efficiently. Lawyers who charge £1,000 per hour don't spend much time reviewing documents - instead, they farm that out to lawyers who charge £250 per hour. 

A psychologist writes 19 August 22 22:09

Whoever wrote the report has obviously not actually read the literature on deep brain stimulation (DBS) which is currently used to treat Parkinson's disease and intractable depression. The idea that DBS can result in improvement to the cognitive functions involved in specific legal tasks to such a level of precision is fairly risible, at least at the moment. We don't even know how it works to relieve depression. Believe me I'd love to get an implant that would enable me to prepare for a child arrangements hearing in five minutes!

Gottohanditohim 21 August 22 08:40

Susskin has only ever spouted rubbish,  but got to hand it to him his been paid handsomely by the clueless people who he wants to have these chips fitted. 

Maybe he should rethink promoting this as they will no longer need him. 

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