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Generative AI in Legal Sector Faces Talent and Expertise Gap, Survey Reveals

The legal industry stands on the brink of a transformative shift with the advent of generative artificial intelligence (AI), yet a significant talent and expertise gap is hindering its full-scale adoption. This was the central finding of a comprehensive survey conducted by Consilio at Legalweek 2024, which polled 129 legal professionals from a diverse array of backgrounds, including law firms, corporate legal departments, and government-affiliated entities.

Hurdles to Generative AI Adoption

A notable 36% of those surveyed pinpointed a crucial barrier to leveraging generative AI within their legal teams: a stark lack of expertise. Furthermore, approximately 34% of participants identified limited resources or concerns about generative AI’s propensity for generating ‘hallucinated’ content as key impediments. An additional 27% lamented the absence of the right tech talent necessary for successful generative AI implementation. Around 20% of respondents remained cautious, either viewing the risks as outweighing the benefits or awaiting broader industry adoption before taking the leap.

The Expertise Conundrum

Consilio’s chief technology and innovation officer, Raj Chandrasekar, suggests the actual expertise gap might be even more significant than the survey indicates. Many legal professionals, according to Chandrasekar, may conflate generative AI with popular tools like ChatGPT, mistaking familiarity with specific applications for comprehensive expertise in the field.

Training and Skill Development

The survey also sheds light on the industry’s readiness, revealing that only 10% of respondents consider their staff “very trained” in generative AI, with a majority indicating minimal or no training at all. Chandrasekar emphasized the scarcity of training programs focused on the practical application of generative AI in legal contexts, pointing out that current educational offerings primarily cater to the technical aspects of AI development rather than its practical use in legal practice.

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Beyond Prompt Engineering

Chandrasekar advocates for a broader understanding of generative AI’s application, stressing the importance of data security, comprehending data integration techniques, and critically evaluating AI-generated outputs. He predicts that as the field evolves, the focus will shift from prompt engineering to more sophisticated uses of generative AI, necessitating a deeper understanding of its capabilities and limitations.

Diverse Adoption Strategies

The survey also revealed varied approaches to exploring generative AI’s potential within the legal sector. A third of respondents aim to explore the technology’s possibilities without immediate implementation, while 28% intend to educate their teams on its benefits. About a quarter are committed to developing a concrete generative AI strategy with stakeholder buy-in, highlighting the industry’s cautious yet curious stance toward this nascent technology.

Solving Key Challenges with Generative AI

When asked about the objectives they hope to achieve with generative AI, 54% of legal professionals cited gaining insights from data as a primary goal. Almost half also expressed a desire to review documents more efficiently and make better use of existing work products, indicating a keen interest in harnessing generative AI to enhance productivity and decision-making in legal practice.

Conclusion

As the legal industry grapples with the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI, it is clear that bridging the expertise and talent gap will be crucial for unlocking its full potential. With the right training, understanding, and strategic planning, legal professionals can navigate the complexities of AI technology, ensuring its responsible and effective application in the pursuit of justice and efficiency.

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