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Is generative AI an opportunity or a threat for lawyers?


Author: Dóra Szentkereszti

Publication Date: 26.03.2024


Generative AI (GenAI) is gaining ground in the legal field. However, there is still no clear consensus on whether this should be seen as an opportunity or a threat. The Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey indicates that lawyers are already aware of the growing significance of artificial intelligence (AI) for their legal departments and law firms. 73% of respondents expect to integrate GenAI into their legal work in the coming year.


The survey also revealed that they are confident in GenAI's capabilities: the majority of respondents (68%) feel prepared for its impact on their work, and 73% said they are aware of how it can be applied in their work.



GenAI tools for lawyers


Law firms and legal advisors who expect GenAI to impact the day-to-day work of lawyers in the next three years expect the biggest changes (77%) to be in the areas of big data and predictive analytics.

 

However, there is no clear consensus on whether GenAI adoption represents an opportunity, a threat, or both. Almost half of respondents (43%) see it as an opportunity, while 25% see it as a threat, raising issues of inaccuracy, inconsistency, and potential bias 26% see it as both an opportunity and a threat.

 

Robert Ambrogi, the author of the LawSites blog and LawNext podcast, said that the output of generative AI is still a bit of a mystery, prone to hallucinations, and occasionally unreliable. However, this technology can offer significant benefits at little risk if it is used sensibly by reliable businesses against verified data sources.


Legal AI solutions handle large amounts of data


For legal professionals in particular, ChatGPT will provide an exciting insight into the future of GenAI and how it can offer new opportunities to increase efficiency and deepen understanding of how GenAI works. Legal professionals believe that this technology can help automate some routine legal operations, such as drafting contracts and reviewing documents, as well as help them to complete a large number of tasks in a short time.

 

73% of legal professionals plan to employ GenAI in their work during the next year, mainly for activities related to efficiency. Some legal professionals noted that these tools are becoming increasingly important in their daily work, as legal AI solutions can quickly manage and process large amounts of data, analyzing complex legal issues. These tools help to gain deeper critical insights and support legal arguments. As a consequence, automation and AI advances will significantly disrupt legal research and document review tasks, increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, there are still serious limitations in some areas, such as lack of competence, inconsistency, lack of explainability, and potential bias.

 

In general, generative AI will probably be used by most lawyers in their jobs. Predictive analytics is one area where this technology may be able to assist lawyers in the future by providing deeper insights and encouraging greater initiative in their job.


Conclusion


Overall, the fact that 73% of lawyers anticipate using GenAI in their legal work within the next 12 months indicates that they are aware of the technology's potential and know how to use it to accelerate manual tasks that take a lot of time, as well as to gain critical insights and shape legal arguments. Nonetheless, 25% of lawyers saw GenAI as a threat, expressing doubt about its authority, correctness, consistency, and probable bias. This indicates that lawyers are realistic about the risks this technology might present to their profession. Valerie Keilhau, CEO of the German Legal Tech Association has a positive attitude towards GenAI, saying that no one has to be afraid of AI or worry about losing their job. AI will only be a challenge for people who are resistant to change.


 

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