Future Worlds 2050 by UK Law Society

The main regulator of the legal profession has issued its predictive report on where the practice of law is headed by 2030. Not surprisingly, the future of the legal profession will be dominated by Data, AI, Tech, and Climate Change.


These areas of expertise are almost entirely outside the scope of law societies\’ exclusivity and practice of the law is already escaping their monopoly according to the report. The trend is visible right now as firms are scrambling to find lawyers with engineering degrees for example.

Lawyers have not been providing the services that clients want to buy\”

\”The best way to prepare themselves is probably to stop thinking of themselves as lawyers. That has a lot of historic and cultural baggage, I think a lot of the problems that the legal industry faces at the moment arise from that baggage. If you went back 20 or 30 years, there was virtually no difference between the legal profession and the legal services market. There’s a big difference now because you have different players in that market who are not lawyers, they’re not law firms.\”
(Professor Stephen Mayson)

The UK Law Society sees \”trust\” as the only factor that differentiates a real lawyer from an automatic service legal tool.

A full chapter is dedicated on why Global problems require global solutions. Yes, but how does the current geographically fragmented framework of law societies fit into that paradigm? It doesn\’t.

There will be a growing cooperation between legal and non-legal providers \”to better meet client needs for a holistic problem-solving service.\” Yes, because there are still some things engineers and biochemists can\’t do on their own.

When innovations become more effective than the original system – this is a point of disruption. (this is my favourite sentence of the whole report)

After reading this report, I am not sure that the legal profession as we know it will exist in 2030 at all. The legal brand is in full dilution mode.

Law becomes seen as rule – governments will use tech to monitor and alert citizens to be compliant (Horizon 2)

On page 51, the report provides a table splitting the future in three horizons: a) now to 2023, b) 2023 to 2026, and c) 2026 to 2030. I have a feeling that this timeline will be accelerated. It is likely that we\’ll enter the second horizon by 2022 where it is predicted that the \”partnership model dissolves\” to give rise to a more fluid workforce, and society (the public) will shift to instant, self-service legal advice. Instant solutions are the key here and it is where the current model fails.

End users shift away from perceiving the judge as a human being and the lawyer as a representative.

So much to look forward to..

In Horizon 3 it is predicted that compensation for the profession will drop dramatically. AI and voice advisors become commonplace, everyone has a free lawyer at their disposal, similar to Siri. A \”wholly logical justice\” notion is introduced, calmer lifestyles, more caring, and more bla, bla…Yeah but not really, it will be way more disruptive. This is the problem with long term predictions. The only thing on that list that will actually happen 100% is that compensation will drop significantly because traditional legal expertise doesn\’t include the key areas of the future and lawyers lack the competence to advise the public in these key areas. Everything else is speculation. And by the way, everyone already has a free lawyer at their disposal, it is called the internet, or Siri if you want.

The disruptive projection on page 56 suggests lawyers will need performance enhancing drugs to compete with AI. This is frankly a most hilarious justification for the profession\’s notorious substance abuse habit caused by the current failing business paradigm, the 50-80 hour week, the 19th century dynamic. The point of AI is precisely to help you slow down as a human and enjoy the moment while AI does the grudge work for you, not the other way around. Nice try though. Go UK!

Another big trend (and deja vu) is nano-tech. I expect to see performance enhancing nano particles or gene therapies to replace old world performance enhancing (slave) drugs and achieve calm alertness without the jittery side effects, the crippled creativity, and the tunnel vision that stimulants are known for. Moving fast in the wrong direction is worse than not moving at all.

‘We’ll definitely move from a society where we are reactive, waiting for people to get ill, to spot early signs and make replacements well in advance. It’s already happening at the genetic level.\” Liselotte Lyngsø, Future Navigator

The N standing for nanotech, which means manipulating material on ever more precise atomic scales. In due course, I believe the vision of Eric Drexler of nanofactories duplicating what happens in biology with ribosomes will be feasible. It will transform a whole bunch of different things. So, nanobots should be on this list, along with other improvements in biology. The B in NBIC stands for biotech; I for infotech and the C for cognotech, which is understanding and improving the brain more than before, and I see little evidence… that people fully appreciate the potentially wide and sweeping changes that these technologies may bring. (David Wood, Delta Wisdom)

I am glad that the report addresses the widespread myth that AI could replace most humans in the current workforce.

The cost of computation necessary for certain advanced AI and machine learning tools has been grossly underestimated.\”

\”The actual cost of running the process necessary to brute-force an AI application like that might simply be too expensive in terms of the electricity or the heat dissipation.

The trouble is that computation is a resource like any other – it takes place
inside history, it takes place inside physics, it takes place inside the physical
universe and it has a thermodynamic cost associated with it. And, what we’re
finding increasingly, is that at least at current capacities, that cost is too high
for many institutions to bear.\” (Adam Greenfield, writer and urbanist)

In sum, it will be too expensive to replace everyone. So chill.