In the late 1970s, legal research databases like Westlaw and LexisNexis hit the market, and with their emergence came a flurry of predictions about the de-skilling of the legal profession. Pundits speculated that reliance on these technologies might lead to a decrease in critical thinking skills among lawyers, not to mention a big reduction in their capacity to bill hours.

As the internet age dawned, this discourse gained momentum. The easy availability of legal information online spurred fears of the “commoditization” of legal services. As legal information became more accessible, the argument went, the need for lawyers might shrink. Individuals and businesses, it was surmised, could access legal information and conduct basic legal tasks on their own.