Two-thirds of in-house legal department attorneys are confident and ready to try new artificial intelligence (AI) technology, according to a new Thomson Reuters report, which tallied the insight of more than 200 in-house attorneys regarding their use of AI, as well as its benefits and concerns once it’s adopted.
“There is this lingering fear among some of our survey participants that AI will possibly replace lawyers,” said Mark Haddad, head of the Corporate segment for Thomson Reuters. “But technological advances in the legal industry have always focused on evolving the business and practice of law and improving how legal professionals work and process information. While tasks may be managed by a new technology, the work that lawyers perform — the work that only a lawyer can do — will not be outsourced to machines. And new timesaving or data-crunching technologies will act as facilitators to corporate in-house professionals to better serve their business.”
The report, Ready or Not: Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Legal Departments, notes that more than half (56%) of in-house attorneys either perceive that AI technology is not used or are not yet familiar with the use of AI technology in their legal department. And for others, there is skepticism about its reliability and cost-effectiveness.
Indeed, the top concern among respondents in using AI was cost (19%); with reliability (15%) list as another concern, especially in areas of ethical considerations and confidentiality. A third concern is a constant with any new technology or process — change management (9%).
Another finding coming out of the survey: While in-house attorneys and legal departments are now getting much more access to additional data in such areas as outside counsel and legal costs, many are apparently unsure of what to do with it. While almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they have access to this additional data, less than half (49%) feel they are effectively using it. Additionally, only 14% believe their department is using data to more effectively deliver legal services.
“In-house attorneys must ensure that the potential perceived hurdles, like cost and reliability, don’t prevent them from realizing the potential of AI to transform legal departments,” added Haddad. “Besides, corporate counsel have already been using sophisticated AI tools in some of their mainstream workflows, such as legal research, for years.”