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In-house lawyers ‘more open’ to AI adoption, research finds

New research shows the volume of legal practitioners who are receptive to using generative AI, with corporate counsel appearing likelier to utilise new and emerging platforms. This, one expert notes, could have flow-on effects on how law departments manage their work.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 16 April 2024 Corporate Counsel
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According to newly released findings from LexisNexis, half of legal professionals across Australia and New Zealand have used generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools to perform day-to-day operational tasks, with in-house practitioners more open to using such technology.

This said, there remains a degree of scepticism among practitioners, the provider noted.

Global legal information and analytics provider LexisNexis recently surveyed over 560 lawyers and legal professionals throughout Australia and New Zealand to better understand overall awareness of generative AI, the current use of these tools, and likely adoption in the future.


According to the findings, lawyers across Australia and NZ have gone from having very little understanding of how AI will affect the legal industry to three in four practitioners having at least some understanding of generative AI tools and how they can be used.

Nearly all respondents (94 per cent) agreed that generative AI will have an impact (ranging from some to transformative) on routine tasks to create significant efficiencies, the provider said.

Other key findings include:

  • The ability to assist in drafting emails (18 per cent of respondents) and conducting legal research (15 per cent of respondents) were the most cited applications of generative AI technology.
  • Fifty-two per cent of respondents remain sceptical about the ability of current generative AI tools to answer a legal research query.
  • Eighty-four per cent are concerned about the ethical implications of generative AI on the practice of the law.
Speaking about the findings, LexisNexis Asia and Pacific managing director Greg Dickason (pictured) said: “For a time-poor profession, the legal community will undoubtedly be eager to embrace generative AI.”

“It has the potential to fast-track the legal research, summarisation and drafting process, freeing up lawyers’ time to focus on higher-value services for their clients or organisations.”

The survey also found, Dickason went on, that in-house lawyers are more open to adopting generative AI than their counterparts in law firms.

“More than 50 per cent of corporate/in-house lawyers surveyed are already using AI technology in their work, and the majority expressed their willingness to integrate generative AI in their daily tasks,” he detailed.

“This could lead to in-house teams managing more matters internally, and only brief for external support on significant/strategic items.”

This said, Dickason noted, many across the profession are still cautious about the adoption of this increasingly popular technology.

“Generative AI has the potential to save both in-house teams and external firms a huge amount of time and money; however, there is a need for adopters to seek out trusted legal content, with world-class AI security measures in place, developed using ethical AI principles with expert human oversight,” he advised.

“The concerns of ANZ legal practitioners identified in our survey are consistent with what we have observed globally. The adoption of generative AI is also comparable to the hesitancy towards other recent significant technological disruptions to the legal sector, such as cloud storage, the proliferation of case management software, and data security.”

Interestingly, Dickason went on, about 60 per cent of respondents think that they will be ‘left out’ if they don’t use AI tools.

Furthermore, he said, 78 per cent of respondents believe that AI tools will impact the way firms operate and charge clients.

“Given the opportunity to create significant efficiencies and reduce costs and the reliance on billable hours, firms will need to decide how to reinvest the cost savings and whether they pass on the savings to clients,” he outlined.

“This will hopefully result in greater competition and positive outcomes for clients/consumers.”