People have conjectured for years about Artificial Intelligence taking jobs away, but is this forecast finally coming to fruition?
The trend of cutting tech jobs by the thousands started at Big Tech companies last fall. Since then, we’ve seen it seep into the legal technology vertical, too: several larger, well-known service providers have laid off many employees in litigation support positions, such as eDiscovery Project Managers and Engineers. Of course, many cite inflation, cost of financing, and geopolitical turmoil as the reasons behind recent reductions in force, but could the recent boom we’ve seen in AI advancement over the past year or two be a contributing factor, too?
As Recruiters, we usually hear from Trainers, Sales Executives, and Marketing professionals first when the companies in our vertical expect decreased revenues. These positions are most commonly eliminated first when bad times are on the horizon. But with recent layoffs in operational roles instead, it doesn’t feel like companies are expecting a bad fiscal year. In fact, the general outlook seems relatively positive, as indicated by data from the Winter 2023 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey composed by EDRM and ComplexDiscovery. Over 93% of the survey’s respondents stated they believe business conditions to be good or normal at this time and feel that conditions will remain the same for at least the next six months. While only about 6% felt general business conditions were worsening, roughly double that amount (12%) felt gross profits from eDiscovery activities would decrease. This assessment could result from current or predicted increases in salary and other expenses, but the findings don’t seem to indicate pending doom executed on the revenue streams.
According to Erika Santiago, Director of Corporate Training & Recruiting at Legal Tech Talent Network, traditional roles we’ve had in this industry for the past 25 years are changing, and businesses are turning to Business Analyst/MBA types to run much of the software being used to process and review discovery. This shift differs from the typical litigation support manager and eDPM types traditionally working in this space. Further, Erika suggested we will continue to witness layoffs and reorganization of the legal tech business model as the latest wave of AI technology impacts the roles.
AI, when used in the eDiscovery process, does cut down on the number of butts in seats needed to support cases from collection to production, so naturally, there will be fewer jobs in that operations space. However, new technology is costly to develop, purchase and implement, which could be driving concerns about anticipated lower gross profits in the sector. On the law firm side, using AI to capitalize on the use of valuable existing work product is helping firms utilize their existing resources, which can reduce the number of Attorneys and staff needed to handle certain matters.
The good news is that many new jobs are opening in the legal tech vertical to replace some of those lost, including increased KM and Practice Solutions positions in law firms. In addition, consulting firms are showing an increase in openings, too, as they consult with law firms and corporations on how to utilize legal AI tech to their benefit.
For professionals seeking a career move, Legal Tech Talent Network is currently recruiting for multiple newly created positions, many of which are in the AI, KM, and InfoGov consulting space. In addition, we have quite a few Analyst roles available in the law firm vertical. To view all of our open requirements, please visit litigationsupportcareers.com.
Any organizations or candidates needing help from a recruiting firm that understands legal technology should send a confidential inquiry to Support@LitigationSupportCareers.com.
-David A. Netzer, President
Legal Tech Talent Network