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Toledo Legal News - News Technology is changing paralegals’ job responsibilities

 

A greater presence of technologies in law offices, such as workflow automation and artificial intelligence, has not lessened the need for paralegals, according to according to Jessica Lank of Robert Half Legal in Columbus.

The increasing reliance on those technologies has created a greater demand for paralegals who are skillful at using those technologies, she said.

"At many law firms, paralegal responsibilities are expanding; they are being assigned more responsibilities and taking on more work for which a licensed attorney is not required," said Lank, the recruiting firm's director of legal projects.

Workflow automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies are often used in the legal industry to conduct tasks such as researching old cases, reviewing documents and predicting the outcome of court cases, she said.

"Tech-savvy legal professionals who can exploit the benefits of automation tools and manage a variety of duties should continue to have a job market edge," said Lank.

The increased integration of new or updated technology will require paralegals to have a broader skill set, according to Lank.

"Organizations will be looking for interdisciplinary professionals who can analyze business problems and offer innovative technology-based solutions," she said. "This will be a priceless skill set for the future legal workplace."

According to the Robert Half's "Jobs and AI Anxiety" report, 85 percent of lawyers and paralegals surveyed said the impact from the increasing reliance on technology has been positive.

"Advances in technology will free skilled professionals from routine processes, allowing them to spend more time on strategic projects and new opportunities," Lank said. "This will enrich their work lives and make them even more valuable to employers, but in many cases, it will require upskilling."

Technology, however, cannot replace the "soft skills" legal professionals need to provide the best experiences for their clients, according to Lank.

"Collaboration, empathy, emotional intelligence, compassion and other uniquely human attributes will continue to come at a premium in the workplace," she said.

Technology may allow paralegals to work from home, but legal professionals need to have the communication and collaboration skills to successfully work from home, said Lank.

The number of paralegal jobs nationally is expected to increase by about 39,000 jobs from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects," the BLS stated on its website.

Lank said paralegals should constantly try to learn about new or updated technologies.

"Familiarizing yourself with the most up-to-date software can help make you an invaluable legal professional," she said.

BRANDON KLEIN, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

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