95% of legal professionals believe AI tools will have a ‘noticeable impact’ on practice of law

A new report has revealed that 95% of UK legal professionals believe generative AI tools will have a noticeable impact on the practice of law.

LexisNexis Legal & Professional has released a new report entitled “Generative AI and the future of the legal profession”, which highlights a disconnect between in-house counsels’ and law firms’ expectation of generative AI adoption.

49% of in-house counsel expect their law firms to be using generative AI in the next 12 months, and of that percentage 11% expect firms to be already using the technology.

Only 8% didn’t want AI used on their work. In contrast, 24% of firms believe their clients would not want them to use AI.

What’s more, 70% of in-house counsel will expect their firms to use AI, whilst only 55% of firms think their clients will expect it.

The survey of 1,175 UK legal professionals, conducted in May to June 2023, finds 87% are aware of generative AI tools – and of that group, 95% agree these tools will have an impact on the practice of law (38% said it will have a significant impact,11% said it will be transformative and 46% thought it would have “some impact”).

Nearly three-quarters (70%) of in-house counsel agree or strongly agree that law firms should be using cutting-edge technology, including generative AI tools.

While only 36% of respondents have ever used generative AI in a personal or professional capacity, adoption rates are likely to accelerate in the coming months, with 39% saying they are currently exploring opportunities.

This rose to 64% when analysing responses from large law firms alone, and to 47% when looking at responses from in-house lawyers.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) agree that generative AI technology will increase their efficiency. When asked how they would like to use generative AI specifically in their work, respondents said researching matters (66%), briefing documents (59%) and document analysis (47%) had the most potential.

However, many in the profession are understandably concerned about the risks that come from the use of AI technology. Two thirds (67%) of survey participants feel mixed about the impact of generative AI on the practice of law, admitting that they can see both the positives and the drawbacks.

Alison Rees-Blanchard, head of TMT legal guidance at LexisNexis, said:

“When freely available AI tools don’t have access to the relevant data, they have a tendency to make up the answers, or hallucinate.

This means any generated output must be checked thoroughly.  However, a closed data source means that hallucinations will be easier to identify, as verification of the output is made easier.”

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