“You adapt, evolve, compete or die.” - Paul Tudor Jones
One of the primary functions of lawyers in corporations is contract drafting and review. There is, however, a new artificial intelligence (AI) program called Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system that can generate contracts faster. There is now a growing fear among some lawyers that this new AI, among others, can take away some functions or even jobs away from corporate lawyers. Why pay for a corporate lawyer to draft your contracts when an AI can do it faster and cheaper?
If most of the corporate contracts drafted by the lawyer are template contracts, then, truly that lawyer can be replaced by this new AI. Lawyers who get by with template shortcuts, legalese verbiage, or cut-and-paste provisions will probably have to look for work elsewhere.
The question for corporate lawyers is whether or not they can find a way to adapt and use AI to enter into this new paradigm. Lawyers who cannot evolve will surely be left behind by this new development.
This new AI can actually help competent and creative corporate lawyers. AI, like the law itself, is actually just a tool. When used properly, it can actually decrease some of the burdensome and time-consuming tasks of some lawyers.
First, it can provide a predictive data bank and contract repository where you can draw needs-specific contracts. The said data bank will have an institutional memory of previous agreements and even the basis and circumstances surrounding such agreements which may be relevant to a new project.
Second, it can promote collaborative efforts from other departments in a company. In any project inputs from finance, accounting, research and development, and operations are needed to create a contract. CLM AI can allow people from other departments to contribute to contract drafting through this platform. Lawyers can also keep up with the numerous administrative rules from regulatory agencies like the SEC and BIR to name a few.
Lastly, CLM AI can make contract drafting faster and more efficient.
Freed from mundane and ordinary contract drafting and other tasks that could be solved by AI, lawyers can focus on the more complicated contracts that require creativity, foresight, and lateral thought.
Corporations nowadays face several challenges that require complex and oblique legal concepts inculcated in contracts to anticipate potential problems and opportunities. Lawyers can concentrate on preparing for eventualities and changes in the situation. Lawyers can also spend more time participating in important negotiations and collaborative meetings.
With this new AI, students of law might think they can stop studying the basic concepts of obligation and contracts. This would be a mistake. Without knowing the basics, one cannot understand the more complex concepts and issues which would be needed to go to the next level. Also, one needs the said basics to fully utilize the AI CLM program.
In the end, like many whose jobs are threatened by new AI tech, affected lawyers must not only ensure their basic competency but also add value plus to their skills and knowledge to adjust to the new reality. Like other professionals, lawyers must learn new skills to fit in this changing world.
This is my oblique observation.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.