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Keynote at ABA TECHSHOW talks threat from automation

by Joe Kaczrowski | Mar 31, 2015
In addition to the expo hall where you can mingle with over 100 vendors and pick up all kinds of goodies and gadgets, the ABA TECHSHOW features dozens of sessions on various technology topics (a complete schedule is available here). The keynote speaker this year is Nick Carr and he's set to discuss the impact of automation on people, specifically in the legal industry.  

Carr has published numerous articles and books on technology, including his essay Is Google Making Us Stupid?The ABA Journal ran an article recently providing some more insight into the session and the featured speaker. “I came across research that showed that, as software gets better, humans learn less and practice their skills less,” Carr says. “In theory, the more we can take tasks away from humans, the more time humans will have to work on more important things. What actually happens is people start to get passive and lose attentiveness. What we end up seeing is a fading of human talent.”  

This year's keynote takes on some additional significance to MSBA members as the Association rolls out it's new and improved mndocs on HotDocs Market.  Document automation systems like mndocs have been shown to increase document generation process efficiency for lawyers by over 90%.  Systems like mndocs also reduce the risk of human error or oversight through older manual processes relying on cut-and-paste and search-and-replace.  (If you want more information on document automation, check out this recording featuring Jonathan Hoy from HotDocs.)

The argument in favor of automation is fairly obvious.  As with any process improvement increase efficiency and automation allows attorneys to concentrate on more complex (and more profitable) tasks.  Carr, however, notes that some seemingly complex tasks are being shifted to automated systems as well, e-discovery being one of the more prominent examples.  “It’s still very much in the early stages. I’ve seen them used in some intellectual property cases, but it’s still very much on the horizon,” says Carr. “As we’ve seen with e-discovery or even contract generation, as soon as the computers move in, they really reshape these jobs very quickly—or destroy them altogether.”

So, can mndocs improve your profitability by freeing up more billable hours?  As a reliable prognosticator says, signs point to yes.  Is mndocs the next domino on the path to Skynet or Samaritan?  Well, that remains to be seen.

In the meantime, head over to to see what mndocs can do for you. There are recorded webcasts as well as a schedule of upcoming live demos available.  And if you're going to TECHSHOW consider checking out the keynote to see if you need to start stockpiling Twinkies and bottled water.

ABA TECHSHOW 2015 runs from April 16-18 at the Hilton in Chicago.  Online registration is available through Friday, April 3, and MSBA members can get discounted admission by using code TECHSHOWEP15.