Generative AI and the future of the legal profession: LexisNexis UK report canvases in-house and law firm views 

LexisNexis Legal & Professional today (13 July) releases a new report entitled “Generative AI and the future of the legal profession”, which highlights the at times surprising expectations of in-house counsel and law firms when it comes to generative AI adoption.  

Forty nine percent of in-house counsel expect their law firms to be using generative AI in the next 12 months, including 11% who say they 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.   

The survey, conducted among 1,175 UK legal professionals from May to June 2023, finds 87% of legal professionals 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 across both the in-house and private practice sector said they have 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%) said 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. 

Natalie Salunke, general counsel at Zilch, says her and her team are working with their tech partners to incorporate ChatGPT into their internal processes and customer-facing products.

“We’re in a very risk averse industry. Many lawyers have been concerned that using ChatGPT and the like will result in all their data becoming public, or that they won’t have ownership rights to the output,” she said, but added: “We’re already going to see it more in our daily lives. All this change is really scary, but that’s not a good enough reason not to embrace it and learn how to incorporate it into making our lives easier.”

The survey reveals, however, an industry that is very unsure about the changes that are ahead: 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.  

“When freely available AI tools don’t have access to the relevant data, they have a tendency to make up the answers, or hallucinate, says Alison Rees-Blanchard,” head of TMT legal guidance at LexisNexis.  

“This means any generated output must be checked thoroughly, as open-source generative AI does not always identify its source. However, when trained on a closed source and taught not to deviate, the results are exponentially more accurate.” 

Also commenting in the report was Toby Bond, intellectual property partner at Bird & Bird, who said that companies need to start getting policies in place regarding generative AI tools. 

“The risk is that generative AI tools are used for a work purpose without a proper assessment of the potential legal or operational issues which may arise,” he said. 

You can download the report here:

LexisNexis is using the survey in part to highlight its recently announced commercial preview of Lexis+AI, a generative AI platform that will undoubtedly transform the way that users of its platform conduct research and draft resulting documents.