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Half of uk lawyers want to see profession self-regulate on using generative ai, shows new Thomson Reuters report

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Half of uk lawyers want to see profession self-regulate on using generative ai, shows new Thomson Reuters report

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The report reveals 48% of UK lawyers favor self-regulation for AI use; inaccuracy and data security are primary concerns

According to the 2024 Report on the State of the UK Legal Market by Thomson Reuters, nearly half of UK lawyers advocate for self-regulation regarding the use of generative AI within the profession. Specifically, 48% of lawyers in UK firms and 50% of in-house lawyers support this stance. In contrast, 36% of UK firm lawyers and 44% of in-house lawyers believe government regulation is necessary. This preference for government regulation is notably higher than in the US and Canada, where only 26% of lawyers surveyed support government oversight of AI.

Kriti Sharma, Chief Product Officer for Legal Tech at Thomson Reuters, highlighted the potential benefits of generative AI when used responsibly. She stated, "Generative AI can augment the work of lawyers, improving productivity and efficiency, which can address issues like burnout and enhance access to legal services and justice."

Despite the enthusiasm for AI, lawyers express significant concerns about its use, particularly regarding inaccuracy and data security. The report identifies the primary barriers to AI adoption among lawyers as:

  • Potential for inaccurate responses (74%)
  • Concerns about data security (68%)
  • Complying with relevant laws and regulations (63%)
  • Privacy and confidentiality of information entered into AI tools (58%)
  • Ethical and responsible use of AI tools (50%)
  • Dependency on technology, potentially reducing critical thinking and creativity (50%)

Sharma acknowledged these concerns, emphasising the importance of trusted legal AI tools and the advantage they provide to firms that adopt them. "Lawyers are cautious about risking the quality of their work, but those who embrace specialised legal AI tools grounded in trusted content will likely outpace their competitors," she said.

Thomson Reuters has recently introduced CoCounsel, a comprehensive AI assistant designed to answer complex legal research questions using trusted legal information while ensuring proprietary data remains secure.

Additional findings from the report show that among lawyers whose firms and departments use generative AI, the technology is primarily utilised for:

  • Document review (91%)
  • Legal research (83%)
  • Document summarisation (74%)

Moreover, 85% of in-house lawyers believe generative AI will enable them to bring more work in-house over the next five years, offering significant cost savings for legal departments.

While the concerns about AI—such as inaccuracy and data security—persist, Sharma notes that these issues are gradually being addressed as AI technology becomes more integrated into law firms and in-house legal departments. She concludes, "AI won't replace lawyers, but those who leverage AI-powered tools will gain a competitive edge over those who don't."