Lawyers at some of the biggest firms in London expect job losses in their workplaces because of artificial intelligence.

Research from commercial property company CBRE has found that nearly half of the largest law firms in London think that junior and support roles will be reduced due to the introduction of artificial intelligence.

5% of the respondents to CBRE’s annual London law firm real estate report said that they expect the technology to cut more than a fifth of jobs.

The effect of artificial intelligence on employment is hotly contested, with some arguing that we can expect a high level of automation, to such an extent that it will be necessary to re-think economic models and the role of taxation. Others believe that though AI will take some jobs, it will also create an equal number of new roles.


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Richard West, of law firm Kennedys, said: “The question of how headcount will be affected is complex, and of course, technology is likely to result in attritional work and roles falling away from the traditional legal services model.

“However, it is too early to say that there will not be other roles to replace them. New roles are developing as technology encroaches on the attritional space. They include data scientists, those working on AI and predictive analytics, as well as legal services software developers.”

Frances Warner Lacey, senior director at CBRE, noted that the study found “considerable uncertainty around the impacts of AI on employment, reflected by over 30% who were unsure of the potential impact at each level.”

The report found that 89% of law firms already use AI or are planning to do so, with 63% saying they use it for legal document generation and review, just under half saying they use it for due diligence, and 42% using it for research.