In-House Legal Teams' AI Use Outpaces Law Firms

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More corporate legal professionals are trusting of artificial intelligence and using the technology than law firm professionals, according to a report released Tuesday by contract management platform provider Ironclad.

The report found that nearly 90% of in-house legal professionals are very or somewhat trusting of AI tools, while about 60% of law firm professionals shared similar views.

In addition, more than 80% of in-house legal professionals are using AI tools for legal work, while 60% of law firms professionals are doing the same, according to the report.

"Contrasting perspectives among these groups isn't entirely surprising, given that their business models, roles, and priorities vary," the report said.

The report also found differences between corporate legal departments and law firms on AI guidelines, investments and views of risks.

Almost all the surveyed in-house legal professionals said that their companies allow AI use, while about 75% of attorneys said their law firms permit use of the technology, according to the report.

Nearly 80% of in-house legal professionals strongly or somewhat agree that the benefits of AI outweigh the risks, while about half of law firm attorneys have similar views, the report found.

As for investments, nearly 90% of in-house legal professionals think their companies are very or somewhat likely to invest in AI tools for widespread adoption versus about 60% of law firm attorneys, according to the report.

The report is based on a survey commissioned by Ironclad and administered by independent research firm OnePoll. The survey was conducted between March and April and completed by 400 law firm attorneys and 400 in-house legal professionals.

The survey asked respondents about AI uses, risks, regulations, job replacement and work satisfaction.

In contract management, law firm attorneys and in-house legal professionals think AI can be used for intake, drafting, review and analytics, according to the report.

Outside of contract management, respondents think AI can be used for summarizing case law, preparing legal memos and tagging documents, the report found.

The biggest concerns in-house legal professionals and law firm attorneys have about AI are accuracy and security, according to the report.

The report also found that the implementation of regulations could spur more AI adoption. More than 80% of in-house legal professionals and law firms attorneys said they would be much more or somewhat more open to using AI at work if there was proper regulation around its use.

The majority of respondents are not worried about AI replacing them, but nearly a third of respondents are concerned AI will take their jobs, according to the report.

At the same time, nearly 60% of attorneys who feel some dissatisfaction with their jobs think AI could help them, the report found.

"As legal professionals have started to integrate AI tools into their work, AI has emerged as an aid that can alleviate some of the top causes of workplace dissatisfaction," the report said.

Several legal tech companies have released reports on AI adoption in the legal industry. Many of the reports specifically focused on generative AI, systems that produce written and visual content.

In April, professional services software company Intapp Inc. published a report finding that AI adoption in the legal industry lags behind other sectors including consulting, accounting and finance.

Last month, law practice management software company Clio issued a report finding that solo and small law firms plan to adopt AI more quickly than larger firms in the next six months, and prospective clients are even more eager for AI.

--Editing by Jay Jackson Jr.

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