Quote of the day: replacing 1,000 lawyers with one

Last week the New York Times published an article describing the potential impact of advances in computer software on one of the major employment sectors that sustain Chicago’s Loop and downtown housing demand – law firms. The money quote:

Quantifying the employment impact of these new technologies is difficult. Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy, is convinced that “legal is a sector that will likely employ fewer, not more, people in the U.S. in the future.” He estimated that the shift from manual document discovery to e-discovery would lead to a manpower reduction in which one lawyer would suffice for work that once required 500 and that the newest generation of software, which can detect duplicates and find clusters of important documents on a particular topic, could cut the head count by another 50 percent.

There is a decades-old tale of IBM’s having bullied a competitor by threatening to “darken the sky with lawyers.” Update that to “flood the unemployment office with lawyers.”

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