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Taking the Drudgery Out of Knowledge Work with AI

Taking the Drudgery Out of Knowledge Work with AI 


In recent weeks, so much has been said about AI, NLP and their infinite potential to make our lives easier and better. This has also raised a lot of questions about the sheer efficiency and power of AI being able to replace people’s jobs, particularly those of knowledge workers. As an example, it was said that a lawyer will be more easily replaced by AI than a truck driver. Can this be right? As a former attorney, this rang alarm bells. I am not the only one. When I described the capabilities of AI to a law school classmate, his first fearful response was “Is this going to take over my job?”  

Well, I think the honest answer is probably mixed. AI will NOT take over your job… just yet. 

What it can do, however, is take over the mindless drudgery of a lot of the tasks that knowledge workers have to perform. When I practiced law at a very large international law firm, I used to joke that the more boring your job, the more you get paid as a lawyer. There is a lot of truth to this. There is so much redundancy and mindless work that goes on in the legal field. Just to name two:  

  1. due diligence for corporate lawyers (combing through hundreds or thousands of documents to either summarize contracts or find key issues); and 
  2. discovery for litigators (basic keyword searches most often using Command+F then manually cutting and pasting sections of documents to another document to organize all this information most likely in the 1,000s or more for complex cases)

Just these two tasks create work for countless knowledge workers in the legal profession alone. 

But now, AI can automate these tasks and perform them about 99% faster than a knowledge worker.  

But before anyone panics – this is a good thing. The part that I absolutely dreaded about being an attorney was the sheer drudgery of work like due diligence and the numbing monotony of it. The introduction of AI into the legal workflow, as an example, means more time spent actually doing what clients pay good money for. They pay lawyers to actively think strategically, research case law and craft arguments, draft contracts, etc. I doubt that clients are happy to pay a lot of money for Command+F searches plus cutting and pasting word documents.  

With the advent of AI, the part of the work that is the most dreaded due to sheer mindless drudgery can be a thing of the past, leaving knowledge workers with more time to spend doing strategic, intelligent work for their clients.  

After all, isn’t this the golden promise of technology? 

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