These positions will create a caste system of the have and have-nots within firms. The highly-coveted junior associates will still make $160K -- possibly more given that the firm has lowered the number of those positions. The "career associates" will be stuck in a rut with no skills.
... and that was where I was going with my plumber note. This could make (some) lawyers "tradesmen" instead of "professionals," with pay and status to match.
I might even see a full bifurcation of law schools, where some schools basically become trade schools - low tuition, courses aimed at doc review et al - and others remain professional schools, charging high tuition from the hopeful and teaching little of immediate value.
On a more immediate level (for me, anyway), this trend towards quasi-temp lawyering for basic stuff has caused a major problem for BigLaw. Combined with computer advances, this makes it very difficult for BigLaw to train its associates. Back in the day, junior associates spent endless hours reading documents, sitting silently in conference rooms, proofreading correspondence, and other semi-menial tasks that - while mind-numbing - provided immediate immersive training in the business and profession of BigLaw, all while charging the client $200/hour.
This work is mostly gone now. Some has gone to the outsourcers, and some has been eaten by computers. This has made the firms far more efficient, and allows them to provide higher levels of service to their clients at breakneck speeds, but it leaves precious few opportunities for legitimate billable training for junior associates. That means that junior associates are not as profitable as they were, which upsets the whole law firm business model while simultaneously choking off the supply of future high-billing-rate BigLaw partners.
I view this as a natural progression, but one that is ongoing, and there is much change yet to come before we stabilize.