The Judiciary’s Generative AI Adoption: Balancing Benefits and Threats

Generative AI technology is gaining traction in the legal industry, with 54% of in-house lawyers expressing support for its use, according to a recent survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Institute. Despite cautious adoption rates, the potential of generative AI in legal tasks is being recognized, particularly in areas such as contract formulation and review, legal research, and question-answering.

The survey reveals that 82% of corporate legal experts believe generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, can be effectively utilized in legal tasks. Respondents who endorsed the use of generative AI viewed it as a means to improve efficiency and transform their work.

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Furthermore, 65% of respondents believed that generative AI should extend beyond legal and tax-specific jobs, highlighting the technology's potential for administrative tasks, internal communications, and document generation.

Despite the growing interest, legal professionals are cautious due to concerns surrounding privacy, confidentiality, data security, and accuracy. The report notes that privacy concerns were particularly prominent with regard to public-facing tools like ChatGPT.

Thomson Reuters, a proponent of AI, emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between the benefits of technology and the mitigation of unintended consequences. As generative AI tools become more sophisticated and selective in their use of client data, the perceived risks are expected to diminish.

Interestingly, the survey reveals that while 10% of corporate legal departments have already implemented or plan to adopt generative AI, the percentage is twice as high among law firms. Furthermore, 83% of corporate legal respondents were unaware of whether their outside law firms were utilizing generative AI technology.

This lack of transparency highlights the need for better communication between corporate legal departments and their external legal partners regarding the adoption and usage of generative AI.

As technology advances and industry-wide collaboration ensues, legal professionals must find the right balance between reaping the benefits of generative AI and addressing potential risks.