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Generative AI Report by Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs released a report on Sunday forecasting significant economic and workforce impacts due to generative artificial intelligence (AI), many in the legal field expressed concern. The report predicted that generative AI could automate 44% of legal tasks in the U.S., along with 46% of administrative tasks, 35% of business and financial operations, and 31% of sales tasks. spoke with several legal professionals like Jay Edelson, founder, and CEO of Chicago-based plaintiffs firm Edelson, who has been an early adopter of generative AI. The firm now uses ChatGPT for drafting initial press releases and powering an internal chief happiness officer named "Chatty." Jay mentioned “The great shedding of jobs is beginning." Edelson considers the Goldman Sachs report too optimistic about AI replacing legal jobs. He sees generative AI as a turning point for society with potentially greater impact than the internet. "Unlike other technologies, generative AI is fundamentally different and will lead to a massive loss of jobs," Edelson said. He acknowledged that generative AI won't surpass humans in making judgment decisions, emotionally connecting, or certain types of creativity. However, he believes that many legal tasks don't require these qualities, making AI a suitable replacement for much of the work currently done by paralegals and young associates. Edelson expects that AI will lead to significant job loss, creating only one new job for every five lost. While generative AI could create new, currently unimaginable jobs, predicting the future workforce is challenging, Edelson added.

James Michalowicz, senior manager of legal ops business performance at TE Connectivity, agrees that generative AI represents a turning point for the industry, and that the Goldman Sachs report's predictions about the replacement of legal tasks are generally accurate. However, he has seen similar fears and reactions before with contract attorneys, predictive coding, technology-assisted review (TAR), and outsourcing of legal tasks overseas. Michalowicz believes that AI will alleviate the workload of legal staff and boost productivity, rather than replacing jobs. He argues that AI will automate repetitive, low-risk tasks, freeing up capacity for more strategic work.

Bennett Borden, chief data scientist at DLA Piper, previously said lawyers who don't understand generative AI are "like dinosaurs the day before the meteor hit: they're extinct." He maintains this view and stresses the importance of understanding AI in light of the Goldman Sachs report. Borden predicts that if properly harnessed, the skills and jobs created by generative AI will more than compensate for the jobs lost. Borden compares generative AI to the industrial revolution, with a crucial difference: generative AI affects white-collar workers rather than manual laborers. He does not share the pessimism of others about the report's implications, as he believes those whose tasks might be replaced can learn to work with AI and create new opportunities. Borden advises lawyers to understand the risks and benefits of AI, plan for disruption, and embrace change, as they did when electricity replaced steam.