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Corporate counsel should be ‘proactive’ around AI use and risks

While there are a range of attitudes and concerns about the usage of AI in-house, this managing director says emerging tech can give in-house teams an “immediate benefit”.

user iconLauren Croft 11 June 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Greg Dickason is the managing director at LexisNexis Asia and Pacific. Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, he delved into the use of generative AI by law departments and their team leaders and how to overcome initial worries around new tech.

In terms of how fast corporate counsel are adopting generative AI and other new technologies, Dickason said that about 60 per cent of in-house lawyers are already using AI in some way to create work product – and that while there are still concerns around new tech, corporate counsel are “jumping in” to drive efficiency.

“There’s obviously a range of attitudes, and some are concerned, but I think the difference between corporate counsel and people and in-house and law firms is that they’re more focused on getting work product done. The risks are lower because it’s internal. And so, the risk side is not as big as the output and the productivity side,” he said.


“So, they’re wanting productivity and output above risk. And that’s why I think they’re jumping in. I think corporate counsels under the pump have got a lot of work to do, and this is helping them go up the value chain by getting some of that more simple stuff out of the way because generative AI can help.”

For corporate counsel, thinking about specific approaches to AI can alleviate some of these initial concerns, as well as understanding how to properly use it.

“When it’s properly trained and grounded in legal information, it can give you a great starting point. It can also give you great references for how you’re going to do research, or how you’re going to create a work product, like something like a draught, or how you’re going to understand a particular area of law in a way that you never haven’t really seen before. So previously, when you’re trying to do some research, you have to work out what your search terms are,” Dickason said.

“With generative AI, it’s much easier to ask open-ended questions, get a direction from the generative AI, and you can then start your research much more effectively. And then, once you’ve got to a point where you found what you want to look at, create draughts, create work product that you’re going to send to your clients, that’s much easier as well. So, I think the combination of just making the process so much more efficient, but also then going downstream for your drafting, those are the two things that you really should be thinking about.”

There are also key ways in-house teams can utilise AI, including for contract reviews and creating new drafts for an already-established work product – both of which Dickason said were “very accelerated” by AI.

“Not doing that, I think you’re losing out, but you will be out-competed by lawyers who are. Because that’s going to take a substantial amount of time away from you, actually save you a substantial amount of time if you do use it. Anecdotal feedback we’ve had is five to 10 hours a week. It’s the kind of numbers that you can save. I mean, that’s a lot. That’s more than a day. It obviously depends on what you’re doing on your general day. But a lot of that drafting that contract review, all of that is where generative AI is going to help you.

“Then you can move up the chain because generative AI also helps you with more open-ended questions and being able to do deeper research, which is where you can start to then become that advisor to your business, where you can say, hey, the law is changing. Are you aware of it? This is where it’s going. And you can go from taking instructions from the business to actually starting to become somebody who is proactively challenging the business and helping them in their future direction.”

While some general counsel may have concerns about an initial time investment, Dickason emphasised that learning how the tools work isn’t as hard as many expect.

“You will get an immediate benefit within an hour or two of using a generative AI product. They’re not as hard to learn as almost any other technology. They’re harder to get good at. So, that initial draft, and how you ask for it to draft, that you can do pretty quickly, but to get the perfect way in which you’re going to ask for the draft, and that’s where you need to learn,” he said.

“So, I would say you will definitely see the value, but then over the next few months, you’ll probably double the value you get as you learn.”

However, as this is still an emerging field, organisations need to be focused on “explainability and transparency” as well as self-regulation – looking at how the European Union has just passed its Artificial Intelligence Act.

“How do you manage your data? How do you manage the user rights? I think that’s very important. So, if you have data in the system, how’s it being used, how’s it being managed? And then probably to consider the establishment of an AI office, managing the risks around AI and actually being quite proactive about that by having one person, at least, who has this as part of their remit, and that potentially means that they are reporting through to the risk management committee on the board, or there’s some report that you’re putting through to the board, especially if you’re a listed business,” Dickason said.

“It’s probably worthwhile as a business to start to set up your AI, your own AI governing principles, to look at self-regulation. And I think that’s very important because then throughout the business, you can have a culture where those rules are being used, whether you’re developing something, whether you’re using something just to make sure that your own principles are applied. And if they are grounded in something like what the European Union’s done, then you’re setting yourself up in a very good way for the future.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Greg Dickason, click below: