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Evolution of GenAI‘s Impact on Legal Services

April 24, 2024

Evolution of GenAI‘s Impact on Legal Services

GenAI, or generative artificial intelligence, has emerged as a game-changing technology with immediate implications for the legal industry. Thomson Reuters anticipates that within the next decade, GenAI’s impact on legal services will profoundly alter the industry for both corporate legal departments and law firms, based on the Future of Professionals Survey and interviews with experts across the industry.

Legal professionals widely acknowledge the transformative potential of AI, with 70% foreseeing its significant impact within five years. Wide-scale transformations are expected within a decade, potentially leading to a reconfiguration of traditional business models and a partial displacement of legal professionals by technological alternatives.

The evolution of GenAI’s impact on the legal industry is expected to unfold in three overlapping waves. In the short term (one to three years) there will be a surge in AI adoption and experimentation, primarily focused on back-office functions and support staff, as legal departments and law firms move from pure experimentation to putting AI plans into action.

Over the next three to five years, changes to the legal business model will emerge as AI enables legal work to be done more efficiently. At the same time, corporate legal departments will pressure law firms and outside providers to deliver work faster.

Five to ten years out, the trajectory points towards greater automation of legal services, potentially leading to the partial or full replacement of legal professionals by AI. This shift could empower clients to bypass traditional legal services entirely, relying on technology-driven solutions for their legal needs.

GenAI’s impact on legal services will vary across different segments of the industry, driving significant changes in internal structures and expectations from outside providers. Corporate legal departments, law firms, ALSPs, and other legal industry players would be smart to begin plans for a potential future now, as a GenAI-impacted future will lead to profound change in the way people work.

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