“Our use of artificial intelligence technology is designed to help legal professionals do their jobs more efficiently, allowing them to focus their time where it matters most. This data shows a high commitment to the new technology, but more understanding is urgently needed to enable legal professionals to first trust and then seize the opportunity that lies ahead,” said Kriti Sharma, Product Director of Thomson Reuters Legal Technology.
“We are committed to helping our clients address the rise of generational AI, as well as supporting the profession in harnessing the potential of large language models to improve access to justice,” he said.
Law firms looking to adopt new technologies are aware of the potential risks and are taking a cautious but practical approach when exploring potential use cases. As part of the research, the Thomson Reuters Institute conducted qualitative interviews to better understand opinions. The importance of protecting the use of AI generation was mentioned in all interviews conducted, and everyone noted that they still do not fully trust AI generation tools, and especially the public-facing ChatGPT tool, with sensitive data.
With a third of respondents (34%) still in the consideration stage for generative AI and ChatGPT, building trust is essential to ensure awareness of its potential. The survey highlights that the legal profession must focus on education as well as keeping up with the development of technology. This will help professionals seize opportunities to increase trust and raise awareness of how AI technology can help automate tasks, deliver insights and drive efficiencies when combined with trusted information and human insights.
Despite research showing that 83% of respondents believe their firm does not use AI, or do not know if AI is used in their firm, the legal profession has benefited from artificial intelligence for many years. With the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, we’ve seen a new set of opportunities in tools that have the potential to revolutionize the way lawyers work.
Sharma added: “The research shows what practitioners think and feel about the rise of generative AI. We are clear about the opportunities; however, it suggests that we are still unclear about the safe implementation or benefits. To succeed, the legal industry must be proactive and take responsibility for educating itself, agreeing to industry-specific rules, leading consumer awareness, and being proactive in expanding its code ethics to embrace AI.”
The Thomson Reuters Institute conducted the research for this report by sending invitations to an online survey to large and mid-sized law firms, along with law firms that are members of the Thomson Reuters Coalition of Influencers panel, based in the United States. United Kingdom and Canada. 443 respondents were applicable between 21-31 March 2023.
Of these respondents, 62% came from medium-sized law firms (between 30 and 179 lawyers); while the remaining 38% came from large law firms (more than 180 lawyers), and 17% of the total respondents came from firms with more than 500 lawyers. The majority of respondents were from the US (63%), with 23% of respondents from the UK and 14% from Canada.
Respondents’ job titles were roughly divided between partners/managing partners (34%), associates (30%), and other attorneys (26%). The remaining 11% of respondents were divided between paralegals, law librarians, C-suite/executive leadership, and IT/technology management.
Respondents who completed the survey were also asked open-ended questions about their views on why generative AI should or should not be used for legal work, as well as the potential risks of generative AI, and whether they believed that those risks were there. The Thomson Reuters Institute also conducted additional qualitative interviews to further develop AI generational beliefs in addition to the survey responses.