Attorneys Say AI Is More Promising Than Concerning

April 4, 2024



Sarah Moran
Sarah Moran

Generative AI has continued to dominate industry conversations. With new articles on the effect of AI on businesses and eDiscovery seemingly every day, it can be hard to keep up.

This raises broader questions about the role that AI could or should play in eDiscovery, how familiar with the tools and implications eDiscovery professionals need to be, and how people in the industry view the promise and risk associated with AI.

To answer these questions, Lighthouse conducted a survey of 268 eDiscovery experts. Slightly more than half hail from law firms (56%), a majority of which are large firms with 500+ attorneys, while a bit less than half (44%) hail from corporations with at least $500 million in annual revenue.

While people in the industry clearly respect the risks and complications posed by AI, sentiment as a whole leans toward curiosity and optimism.

Widespread familiarity with AI despite limited usage

At the time of the survey (December 2023), just one in five respondents reported that their company or law firm had adopted AI business tools like Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT Enterprise.

Despite the limited organization-wide adoption, most attorneys have at least some familiarity with AI and its implications. On an individual basis, almost half of respondents (48%) reported using an AI tool for work. And the vast majority of respondents (85%) fall within the “slightly familiar” to “very familiar” range of using AI tools for the practice of law.    

Interest in AI outweighs concern

The survey shows broad market interest in AI, with 87% of respondents stating they are “interested” or ”very interested.”

It remains to be seen how fast that interest will turn into further adoption of AI. Over half of the respondents reported having a positive attitude about AI impacts on the legal industry, while two in five reported feeling neutral/undecided. Taken together with the high interest in AI, these results may indicate that “interest in AI” may mean both “ready to adopt” and “let’s wait and see.”

While not everyone is sure that AI will benefit the industry, a strong majority of legal practitioners are invested in trying to make it happen. Two out of three respondents view opportunities to improve efficiency, scalability, and outcomes of legal work as a priority for AI usage, compared to one out of three who prioritize the impact that business AI tools will have on information governance, compliance, and the like.

Data security and privacy concerns around AI are top of mind

The survey’s qualitative questions and responses make it clear that no one takes the power and promise of AI for granted. Many mentioned concerns about data protection and privacy. Some went so far as saying that, since law is unscientific, “any meaningful legal analysis done by AI would likely contain errors/loopholes.”

Most commonly, respondents expressed appreciation for the opportunity presented by AI and anticipation of the risks. Said one respondent:

“AI adoption can strongly enhance discovery efficiency, particularly in the organization and review of large-scale document production. Strong oversight of the implementation process must be integrated into policy, to avoid potentially catastrophic breach of security, confidentiality, client privilege, etc.”

Motivations for using AI and more

You can find even more data on what professionals like you think of AI, including why they use AI tools and where they see the greatest potential to enhance their work, in our complete survey report.

The full report delves further into:

  • Motivations of those currently using AI in eDiscovery
  • How the level of trust in AI varies by legal activity
  • Top areas of risk when it comes to using AI in the workplace
  • The AI tools currently being adopted for legal work within organizations

The AI landscape will continue to change, and we’ll continue to stay on top of it—as an innovator and observer. We’re sharing learnings from using AI on over a billion documents in our Guide to AI in eDiscovery, which we’re continuing to update as we learn more.

About the Author

Sarah Moran

Sarah is a Director of Marketing at Lighthouse. Before coming to Lighthouse, she worked for a decade as a practicing attorney at a global law firm, specializing in eDiscovery counseling and case management, data privacy, and information governance. At Lighthouse, she happily utilizes her eDiscovery expertise to help our clients understand and leverage the ever-changing world of legal technology and data governance. She is a problem solver and a collaborator and welcomes any chance to discuss customer pain points in eDiscovery. Sarah earned her B.A. in English from Penn State University and her J.D. from Delaware Law School.