Generative AI in Legal Directions: Trends, Challenges, and Actions to Take

Generative AI in Legal Directions: Trends, Challenges, and Actions to Take

Published on : 21/05/2024 21 May May 05 2024

Anna-Catherine Bénard-Lotz's intervention, Head of the Expert Commission on Digital Innovation & Legal Directions (AFJE), as part of the roundtable "The Impact of AI for Lawyers in 2024: Technology, Skills, Use Cases".
The AFJE's Digital Innovation & Legal Directions Commission comprises approximately 211 members who regularly exchange views on topics related to the technological and digital environment of legal directions, particularly concerning digital tools. Recently, our members have been particularly concerned with the use of AI, how they can prepare to integrate it, for what purposes, and in what form.

The Enthusiasm for Generative AI: Analysis of Trends and Expectations

I conducted a survey among members of the digital innovation commission. The results are obviously not representative of the entire reality experienced by AFJE members, but they highlight trends, especially concerning smaller legal departments (i.e., those with 1 to 5 members, and more rarely with over 15 members).

The first notable aspect is a genuine enthusiasm for generative AI since the arrival of ChatGPT, even though the legal departments surveyed claimed to already have fairly moderate experience in terms of AI usage. It is evident that they have all become familiar with ChatGPT, to the extent that 50% of them declare using it in a professional context.

However, it should be noted that despite the enthusiasm, lawyers primarily want to measure the impact of AI on their profession.

How AI Operates: Necessity of Understanding and Training Needs

The second interesting point is understanding how AI works and what it is. It is precisely this lack of understanding that explains why it is not yet more widely used. And because we are legal professionals, this lack of understanding has repercussions on contracts, especially when contracting with providers who supply us with generative AI.

How can we draft a contractual clause, which will then bind our liability, regarding the use of generative AI if we do not fully understand how it works? This translates into an immense need for training that we have identified when launching our training announcement for the use of Chat GPT.

Data Security and Confidentiality: Major Challenges in the Era of AI

Another consistent concern when discussing generative AI with lawyers is the fear regarding data security. This fear is twofold. First, it concerns the risk of our data escaping us. Second, it concerns the fear of querying data that we do not consider confidential but ultimately become so. Data protection and confidentiality are indeed the primary challenges of using AI within legal departments.

Legal Directions: Initiatives for Deploying a Generative AI Action Plan

In the survey conducted among members of the Commission, we asked about the deployment of an action plan within the legal department. Three options were provided: "we have an action plan currently being implemented"; "we have an action plan to be deployed in the coming months"; "we have no action plan."

In reality, many legal departments do not take the initiative to develop action plans concerning generative AI; they intervene upon request. The initiative often originates from the General Management or is entrusted to other departments, thereby intersecting with the management of existing laws, which in some structures is not always under the purview of the legal department.

United Towards AI: Active Legal Leadership and Imperative Collaboration

Even though AI regulation is still being developed, lawyers must leverage their central position to proactively address this issue, moving beyond a mere regulatory technician role. AI is an enterprise-wide project that requires collective effort.

Take the initiative within the legal department and propose plans that extend beyond the legal spectrum. Communicate, seek information, observe what's happening in other departments, and continue your education. This is collaborative work done in a cross-functional manner.


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