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Artificial Intelligence

Future of Professionals Report 2024: An executive summary for the legal profession

· 6 minute read

· 6 minute read

Explore how AI is driving change for lawyers

How will technology shape the future of the legal profession? In the 2nd annual Future of Professionals Report by the Thomson Reuters Institute, over 2,200 professionals in diverse industriesincluding over 750 within law firms-were surveyed to gain insights into the forces driving change in professional services. Join us as we explore the key trends shaping the legal profession and discuss how lawyers and leaders can prepare for the future. 

 

Listen to a recent conversation with Thomson Reuters CEO Steve Hasker and head of the Thomson Reuters Institute Mike Abbott on insights from the Future of Professionals report.
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Jump to:

What trends will impact the legal profession over the next five years?

Potential benefits of AI for lawyers

How much time can lawyers save in a year?

How lawyers and leaders can prepare for the future

 

Professional work itself is undergoing a transformative shift. Organizations across the board are actively seeking innovative strategies to streamline costs and enhance efficiency. Simultaneously, professionals are increasingly vocal in their desire for a healthier work-life balance. The Future of Professionals Report highlights these dynamic shifts and identifies the key trends that will shape the future of professional work. 

 

The legal profession is on the cusp of a transformative era, with AI poised to reshape how legal services are delivered. This year’s report reveals an even stronger consensus among professionals regarding the profound impact of AI. A remarkable 79% of law firm respondents anticipate that AI will have a high or transformational impact on their work within the next five years, a significant 10 percentage point increase from 2023. Moreover, the belief in AI’s transformational potential has surged, with 42% now holding this view, up from 34% in the previous year. These findings underscore the growing recognition of AI as a game-changer.

 

Exploring the potential for AI is the most common strategic priority for law firm respondents

 

However, despite the widespread optimism surrounding AI, lawyers are still somewhat risk-averse. A sizeable 30% of law firm respondents expressed concerns about the slow adoption of AI in their firms or departments, and they fear that this may lead to a variety of issues, including a loss of competitive advantage or efficiency and cost implications. These concerns highlight the need for legal organizations to proactively embrace AI and develop strategies to harness its full potential.

 


Read the full report and learn more about:

  • The state of AI now 
  • The forecasted pace of AI adoption 
  • Forces influencing the pace of AI adoption 

 

Potential benefits of AI for lawyers 

The potential benefits of AI in the legal industry are vast and varied. Many professionals believe that AI has the power to revolutionize the way legal work is done, making it more efficient, accurate, and effective. In addition to efficiency gains and freed-up time, professionals are starting to get excited about the opportunities for AI to directly deliver value through new use cases. The top three areas of new value for professionals are:  

  • Handling large volumes of data more effectively 
  • Reduce inaccuracies due to human error  
  • Provide advanced analytics for better decision-making 

Law firm professionals specifically noted the opportunities for AI to help them improve response times.

 

Figure 11: Future of Professionals Report 2024

 

It is important to note that the successful integration of AI in the legal industry requires a collaborative effort between legal professionals and technology experts. By leveraging the insights of younger professionals, particularly Gen Z, who are often more familiar with technology and its potential applications, law firms can identify new opportunities for AI integration and develop innovative legal services.  

 

Almost 40% of respondents said they are most excited about the potential of new technology to help do the current work faster and add value to the work they do. 

 

How much time can lawyers save in a year? 

Lawyers today find themselves caught in a paradox of long hours and limited time. Despite their best efforts, many lawyers feel they don’t have enough time to accomplish their goals. Our data shows that AI could free up additional work time for law firm professionals at a pace of 4 hours per week within one year, which means if the average professional works approximately 48 weeks of the year, this will equate to roughly 200 hours freed up over the course of a year.   

The question then becomes: How will professionals choose to use that time they’ve saved?

With AI handling routine tasks, lawyers can reallocate their time to activities that truly matter. Law firm respondents in the report noted they would use more time for business development & marketing tasks. In contrast, those respondents in government agencies said they are more likely to want time for core tasks and long-term projects, as well as research and workload management. 

By embracing AI, lawyers can embrace a future where they have more time for the things that matter most, both professionally and personally. 

“These preferences underscore how organizations, especially law firms, that struggle with how they’re going to reconcile their billable hour pricing models with the swift work of AI-driven usage could find a path forward. If law firm respondents say they hope to use their freed-up time to pursue more business opportunities, then they’re clearly seeing that AI efficiencies can bring a revenue upside to their firms that perhaps will mitigate any change in pricing models that AI also brings about.” 

– Future of Professionals Report 2024

 

 

How lawyers and leaders can prepare for the future 

The Future of Professionals Report highlights the growing impact of technology, especially AI, on the legal industry. With this in mind, it is crucial for lawyers and leaders to proactively prepare for the future. Here are three key areas where firms should focus their efforts in the next year: 

 

  1. Explore and adopt new technologies
     Firms should actively seek out and implement emerging technologies that can enhance their operations and services. By staying at the forefront of technological advancements, firms can improve efficiency, provide better value to clients, and gain a competitive edge.
  2. Embrace change and foster a culture of innovation
    The legal industry is undergoing rapid transformation, and successful firms will be those that embrace change and continuously seek improvement. Encouraging a culture of innovation and open-mindedness is crucial, where lawyers and staff feel empowered to experiment with new ideas and approaches. Firms should provide training and resources to help employees develop their tech skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field.
  3. Stay educated and informed
    Continuous learning is paramount for lawyers and leaders to remain relevant in the evolving legal landscape

Ultimately, the future of the legal profession lies in the hands of those who are willing to embrace change, innovate, and continuously learn. By fostering a culture of embracing technology, education, and diverse perspectives, lawyers can position themselves for success in the future of work. 

 

Future of Professionals 2024

 

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