Few legal professionals are using or planning to use generative AI tools in their legal work, according to a survey conducted March 15-16 and published this week by LexisNexis Legal & Professional.

The survey finds that legal professionals — the survey polled 1,176 U.S. lawyers and 1,239 law students — are generally more aware than the general public of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, with 88% of legal professionals having heard of them compared to 57% of consumers.

But of those legal professionals who are aware of these tools, 81% say they are not currently using them in their legal work. Just 2% of those legal professionals say they are using them daily and 9% say they are using them weekly.

The full survey report has yet to be published but is forthcoming, LexisNexis told me.

(Note: The survey questions discussed below were asked only of respondents who first qualified by indicating they were aware of generative AI tools. The numbers do not include those lawyers who are not aware of these tools.)

Asked if they plan to use generative AI tools in their work, 68% of legal professionals say they have no such plans at this time, while 32% say they are researching and exploring opportunities.

Similarly, asked about the potential impact of generative AI on the practice of law, only 10% saw it as “transformative” and roughly half saw “some impact”:

  • Low impact, 9%.
  • Some impact, 48%.
  • Significant impact, 33%.
  • Transformative impact, 10%.

Of the legal professionals who are using generative AI tools, the survey asked how they are using them. The most common way was for researching matters:

  • Researching matters, 59%.
  • Increasing efficiency, 51%.
  • Writing emails, 36%.
  • Drafting documents, 35%.
  • Understanding new legal concepts, 31%.
  • Streamlining work. 29%
  • Improving work quality, 28%.
  • Document analysis, 22%.
  • Conducting due diligence, 12%.
  • Other, 6%.
  • Developing litigation strategies, 5%.

Across the board, legal professionals express concern with the ethical implications of generative AI on the practice of law. All but 11% have some degree of concerns, while 28% express “significant” concerns and another 6% say they will not use generative AI due to “fundamental” concerns.

Consumers Using AI

The survey also polled 1,765 consumers and asked them about their use of generative AI tools for legal advice or assistance. The information I was provided by LexisNexis does not define who was in this group of consumers.

The survey found that 57% of consumers had heard of generative AI tools and 32% of consumers had used them either personally or professionally.

Of those who had used them, nearly half, 48%, say they had used them for legal advice or assistance. Breaking it down further, the survey found that consumers had used generative AI tools to:

  • Research legal topics, 67%.
  • Understand legal process/requirements, 64%.
  • Find qualified legal professionals, 50%.
  • Draft legal documents/contracts, 39%.
  • Other, 3%.

Asked the areas of law for which hey would consider using generative AI for legal help, consumers answered:

  • General legal advice, 60%.
  • Creating a will, 43%.
  • Legal requirements for setting up a business, 41%.
  • Setting up a rental agreement, 39%.
  • Financial power of attorney, 30%.
  • Filing a small claims lawsuit, 30%.
  • Legal requirements for buying a house, 28%.
  • Preparing to sue someone, 20%.
  • Filing for divorce, 19%.
  • Filing for adoption, 10%.

Client Choice

The survey also asked both lawyers and corporate counsel about expectations around the use of generative AI. Overall, roughly 49% of lawyers agree their clients will expect them to use cutting-edge technology, including generative AI. Even more, 63%, believe clients will expect to be made aware of their lawyers’ use of generative AI, and about 42% say clients should be given the choice about a firm’s use of generative AI.

On the corporate counsel side, 67% say they expect the firms they work with to use cutting-edge technology, including generative AI. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they expect their firms to make them aware of the use of generative AI. Fifty-eight percent expect firms to give them a choice about the use of generative AI.

Some 16% of corporate counsel affirmatively do not want their firms to use generative AI tools.

The survey encompassed attorneys and legal professionals in firms of all sizes and a range of practice areas, although the majority of respondents were in firms of 50 or fewer attorneys.

Featured photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.