AI Law

The Gap Between Generative AI Adoption and Readiness in the Legal Profession [Charts]

The legal industry is keen to start employing generative AI, with 40% of lawyers reporting that they have adopted the technology or plan to in the next year, according to a new survey from ediscovery provider Everlaw. But that surge of interest comes with heavy doubts that legal professionals are ready for what generative AI means for people working in law.

Legal AI

The rapid adoption intent contrasts with the technology’s newness. However, concerns about the effects on legal work abound, especially around potential inaccuracy, security, and lack of explainability. Still, 51% view AI’s influence as likely positive, assisting with delivering greater client value and priority work. Only 29% felt it risks diminishing legal work’s value long-term. Prohibitive costs were not a top adoption barrier, cited by only 1% of respondents. The most trusted applications include pattern finding in data and document summarization.

Everlaw polled 245 lawyers, corporate legal staff, government agency counsel, and legal services firms for the study, which had some notable contradictory responses. Despite all of the excitement for generative AI, 72% of respondents said they believe the legal industry remains unprepared for generative AI’s impacts. While adoption is accelerating, guidelines and best practices remain underdeveloped. The findings suggest interest is outpacing preparedness, requiring urgently upskilling practitioners and formalizing regulations. Standards development may significantly lag adoption timelines. For legal teams and industry groups, closing preparedness gaps with adoption rates may constitute the foremost priority this year.

“Legal professionals are moving quickly to adopt gen AI tools for some tasks, making sure guardrails are in place,” Everlaw strategic discovery advisor Chuck Kellner said. “The key is working with trusted partners who are addressing the challenges proactively and responsibly.”