John O. McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law at Northwestern University, on his blog states that law schools must respond to technological change to offset a significant decrease in demand in legal services due to technological change. One example he gives is that “trust and estates becomes a less valuable area as machines will be more likely to dominate the production of wills and trusts for all but the superrich.”
Professor McGinnis’ post begins as follows:
My last post suggested that the decline in law students was due in large part to a technological shock that has decreased demand for lawyers, at least at the price point law schools are producing them. Law schools need to respond. They must shape a curriculum that will prepare their students for the world of growing machine intelligence that was responsible for the shock. They also need to generate income from other programs to replace the law students who will not be returning.
In the coming age of law and computation lawyers will do better in fast-changing and high value areas. Machine intelligence succeeds through pattern recognition; in narrow, fast-changing areas, it has less data and thus fewer opportunities to identify promising correlations. In such areas, lawyers will have room to craft intuitively appealing arguments to regulators and courts. And when the transaction are of high value, even if machines are helpful in generating documents and precedent, human creativity will continue to add value.
Regulatory areas, particularly financial ones, are appropriate areas for more courses. Politicians are always tinkering with these laws and even when the laws themselves do not change, new administrators alter their interpretation. On the other hand, trust and estates becomes a less valuable area as machines will be more likely to dominate the production of wills and trusts for all but the superrich.