Everyone is talking about ChatGPT and generative AI, but are legal professionals actually using them? ChatGPT & Generative AI within Law Firms, a new report from Thomson Reuters, examines legal professionals’ attitudes towards these emerging technologies.

Based on surveys conducted in March of law firms in the United States, UK, and Canada, the report measures awareness and adoption of the technology as well as lawyers’ views on its potential risks. Legal Current shares top takeaways from the report as well as reactions to the results.

  1. A large majority, 91%, of respondents are aware of ChatGPT and generative AI. This isn’t surprising given broad discussions in recent months around whether to adopt the technologies in the legal profession – and beyond. Yet industry influencer Ron Friedmann may have said it best in summarizing the report findings: “9% not aware of ChatGPT. Yikes – how can that be?”
  2. Awareness of generative AI is strong, yet only 3% of respondents saying they currently use it. As reporter Cassandre Coyer noted in Law.com: “There still seems to be a bit of apprehension toward generative AI in the legal industry.” Legal Dive Reporter Lyle Moran agreed: “most law firm lawyers and staff are holding off on the use of the emerging artificial intelligence technology in their work.” The hesitancy is understandable given cybersecurity concerns and how relatively new the technology is. And incidents of hallucinations – when the technology provides factually inaccurate information – are also giving people pause.
  3. While 82% of respondents said that ChatGPT and generative AI can be applied to legal work, only 51% said ChatGPT and generative AI should be applied to legal work. The disparity reflects the hesitancy noted above. While these technologies may have a positive impact on the delivery, pricing, and execution of legal services, there are risks and unknowns. Legal professionals may be skeptical but they’re not ruling out using new technologies as 34% respondents said their firm is still in the consideration phase. Only 7% said that they did not feel generative AI or ChatGPT could be applied to legal work.
  4. Though 80% of partners and managing partners said their firms had risk concerns around generative AI or ChatGPT at work, just 44% of associates and 56% of other attorneys shared their concerns. This finding is what ALM Tech Editor Rhys Dipshan called the “generational divide” in Law.com. It’s worth noting that the gap may be due to lack of awareness. Only 19% of partners said they didn’t know whether their firms had risk concerns around the technology, compared with 54% of associates and 40% of other attorneys.
  5. UK and Canadian firms may be ahead of the adoption curve compared to their U.S. counterparts. As writer Catherine Baksi noted in The Times, “9 per cent of large commercial law firms in the UK were either using generative artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT, or planning on adopting it, compared with just 3% in the US.” Additionally, 64% of U.S. respondents said they have no plans for generative AI use in firm operations, compared with 59% of UK firms and 48% of Canadian firms.

Download the report for more on legal professionals’ perspectives on the opportunities and potential risks of ChatGPT and generative AI.

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