So says Michael Milken and Igor Tulchinsky in their April 11, 2017, essay in the Wall Street Journal How Technology Liberates Human Capital.
They are not promising lawyers and client’s overnight freedom from the shackles of an outdated business model in the legal industry. In fact, they don’t mention lawyers at all.
But they do make compelling arguments for their central proposition that the upheaval wrought in virtually every segment of the economy by technological advances will be a significant net gain, for just about everyone willing to work at it.
They compare the current revolution to the disruption caused when financial technology disrupted Wall Street and led to increased access to capital for small and medium sized businesses.
They argue that the revolution will have (and is having) three powerful effects.
First, it will leverage human capital, allowing digital collaboration between the talent, training, and experiences of people around the world, and they see humans interacting with machines, rather than being displaced by them.
To be sure, they know there will be disruption and do not underestimate the personal suffering of people whose jobs are and will continue to be blue-collar jobs in manufacturing will be replaced with “new collar” jobs, which will require special training to learn how to interact with machines.
Second, it will create new business opportunities, generated by “[B]illions of interconnected devices [that] will produce an effect even bigger than railroads and telegraphs did when they linked 19th-century communities.”
And third, new forms of financial technologies, like crowdfunding, which will break down financial barriers to entry for anyone with a good idea. Their financing could come from anywhere in the world, from people they’ve never met.
The authors are optimistic about the future but worry about those who could be left behind, and gave it the attention it deserved in the 20th annual Milken Institute Global Conference entitled “Building Meaningful Lives” held in April.
Read the article. It doesn’t address the legal industry directly, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see where it might fit in. We can take heart that, overall, and over time, technology will continue to be a great liberator, the catalyst for better and more fulfilling work and personal lives.