Survey sponsored by Wolters Kluwer forecasts “transformational efficiencies” enabled by generative AI
Global News

WK logoWolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory and Above the Law published a new report indicating that 62% of legal professionals surveyed believe that the effective use of generative AI will distinguish successful and unsuccessful law firms within the next five years.

Generative AI in the Law: Where Could This All Be Headed collected responses from more than 275 legal professionals working across a multitude of industries about generative AI’s impact on the legal sector’s jobs, practice areas and business processes.


“The landscape for generative AI continues to evolve rapidly,” said Ken Crutchfield, Vice President & General Manager of Legal Markets, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, U.S. “This survey indicates that forward-thinking law firms and corporate legal departments anticipate generative AI’s potential to drive substantial new efficiencies that empower attorneys to focus on higher-value legal work.”

Measuring success

Generative AI appears poised to have an impact on how corporate legal departments perceive their outside counsel. The majority of corporate legal departments (61%) either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that the effective use of generative AI will separate successful and unsuccessful firms within the next five years. Meanwhile only 26% “somewhat disagree” and just 3% “strongly agree.”

A majority of law firm respondents also seem to be in agreement that generative AI will play a substantive role moving forward. More than half (65%) either “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” that effective use of generative AI will distinguish successful firms from unsuccessful firms within the next five years.

Routine tasks transformed 

Generative AI will create “transformative efficiencies” within legal research and other routine tasks, according to more than 80% of respondents. Only 4% of respondents somewhat disagree with that sentiment, while just 5% strongly disagree. A small contingent of respondents (9%) signaled that they neither agree, nor disagree that AI will create transformative efficiencies for research and routine tasks. 

Uncertainty surrounding high-level work

Respondent expressed less confidence in AI’s utility for high-level legal work such as developing strategy litigation or negotiating mergers. Less than half (31%) agree that generative AI will transform high-level legal work. Broken down by practice area, 26% of respondents “somewhat agree” that AI will transform litigation, a sentiment echoed by 38% of respondents about corporate work, and 31% of respondents in relation to IP practices. However, just as many respondents “somewhat disagree” that generative AI will transform corporate (38%) and litigation (26%) practices.

Evolving roles

Job categories such as law firm partner or of counsel were also rated among the least at risk to become obsolete due to generative AI. Conversely, jobs categories like lawyers handling law firm document review, librarian or knowledge manager and paralegal were considered among the most at risk of obsolescence. Meanwhile, respondents ranked practice areas in the vein of Corporate (46%), Trust and Estates (39%) and Litigation (35%) as among the most likely to be impacted by generative AI.


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