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In spite of what you may have heard, robots will not be infiltrating the legal profession any time soon. Artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies like machine learning and natural language processing have attracted rapturous attention over the last year and indeed hold tremendous promise. In fact, many organizations that have invested in these technologies are already reaping real benefits. We are not, however, following an innovation trajectory that will lead to “robot lawyers” replacing their human counterparts, whether we’re talking about 2018 or 2028.

Let’s be clear: The robot scenario is mostly hype. The hype may generate short-term interest, but it can be harmful in the long term because it detracts from real, significant technological developments that more people in the profession should know about and be benefitting from. These developments are not only poised to transform the industry in the years to come, but are already streamlining legal workflows in surprising ways, and enhancing the productivity and capabilities of lawyers right now.

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