- More than half (54%) of corporate legal department professionals believe generative AI should be used for legal work, according to a report from Thomson Reuters Institute.
- The support among in-house legal workers for the emerging technology’s use in their industry was just slightly higher than peers working in corporate tax departments (53%), law firms (51%) and tax firms (49%) who were also surveyed. The tax professionals were asked about the potential applications within accounting work.
- Meanwhile, as of late April, around 10% of corporate legal departments said their teams had either adopted or planned to adopt generative AI technology, the Thomson Reuters report found. This was double the percentage of law firms who had adopted or planned to adopt such tech amid caution in the industry.
The survey data from Thomson Reuters Institute indicates that in-house legal professionals are considering their options before plowing ahead with utilizing generative AI tools.
However, 82% of corporate legal professionals agree that generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can be used for legal work. Generative AI tools, which have proliferated since ChatGPT’s launch last year, can quickly produce a variety of content.
The areas where in-house legal professionals see the most potential utility of the technology include contract drafting and review (76%), legal research (69%) and as a question answering service (67%).
“Those who felt that generative AI should be applied to legal or tax work viewed its use cases as not only a square fit with the daily work that lawyers or tax and accounting professionals perform, but potentially transformative in their attempts to find greater efficiencies,” the Thomson Reuters report said.
Overall, 65% of all respondents said generative AI should be used for non-legal or non-tax-specific tasks, an increase of 13 percentage points compared to those who said it should be used for legal or tax-specific tasks.
The non-legal or non-tax tasks could include administrative tasks, internal time and bookkeeping, as well as email and non-work document generation.
The Thomson Reuters report said worries about risk are playing a key role in the slow adoption of generative AI tools by legal and tax professionals to date.
The professionals’ risk concerns largely fall into four categories: privacy, confidentiality, data security and accuracy.
“For privacy, respondents had particular concerns around public-facing tools such as ChatGPT and how any data loaded into the tool would be handled,” the report said.
Thomson Reuters, which is investing heavily in AI, predicts the risks associated with the technology will wane in time as generative AI tools become more powerful and more judicious in their use of customer data.
"The future of professional work is set to be revolutionized by generative AI, and as an industry, we need to work together to find the right balance between the benefits of technology and any unintended consequences,” said Steve Hasker, Thomson Reuters’ president and CEO, in a press release.
In the meantime, some companies have put in place policies regarding generative AI usage and others have warned employees against unauthorized usage of such technology.
For example, nearly one-quarter of corporate legal departments (24%) have issued warnings about the use of ChatGPT or generative AI.
Meanwhile, the report said corporate legal and tax departments have little idea whether or not their outside firms are using generative AI.
“This uncertainty is even greater among corporate legal respondents, of whom 83% said they do not know whether their outside law firms were using generative AI or ChatGPT,” the report said.
Thomson Reuters Institute’s online survey of corporate legal professionals was conducted between April 11 and 25. The survey featured 587 applicable respondents from professionals in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
Most respondents were from legal departments of 50 people or fewer.