Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Content Assessment: Legal Industry Embracing AI But Gaps Remain in ESG, Talent Needs



A short assessment of the qualitative benefit of the recent announcement by Wolters Kluwer of the results of its 2023 Future Ready Survey.

Editor’s Note: This sweeping survey from Wolters Kluwer contains crucial insights for legal industry professionals focused on cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery. As law firms and legal departments accelerate the adoption of AI, they must ensure data privacy, security, and ethics. Generative AI creates new eDiscovery considerations around data sourcing and IP. And as ESG reporting needs grow, secure information governance is essential. This report underscores the importance of cross-functional collaboration on cybersecurity, governance, and discovery amid rapid technology change. Information security, records management, and eDiscovery leaders play central roles in navigating emerging demands. By partnering closely, they can enable responsible innovation and resilience. This survey provides an invaluable snapshot of the legal industry’s digital transformation and its impacts on key practice areas.

Industry Article

Legal Industry Embracing AI But Gaps Remain in ESG, Talent Needs

ComplexDiscovery Staff

A sweeping new global survey from Wolters Kluwer reveals that while the legal industry rapidly adopts new technologies like generative AI, work remains across priority areas like environmental, social, and governance (ESG) preparedness, talent recruitment, diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.

AI Integration Accelerating, But Preparedness Varies

The 2023 Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey polled 700 lawyers across the US, Europe and other regions. It found that 73% of attorneys expect to integrate generative AI like ChatGPT into their legal work within the next 12 months. Many feel confident about the technology, with 68% saying they are prepared for its potential impacts on the profession.

However, perspectives on AI differ internationally. More lawyers in the Netherlands (65%) see it as an opportunity compared to professionals in the US (46%), Belgium (38%) and France (20%). Understanding of AI applications also varies, with 89% of Dutch lawyers and 80% of US lawyers saying they grasp how it applies to their work.

ESG Demand Rising Amid Gaps in Preparedness

While most law firms have established dedicated ESG practices within the last three years, 69% admit they are not yet fully prepared to meet rapidly growing client demands around environmental, social, and governance issues. Similarly, 61% of corporate legal departments say they lag in ESG readiness.

Still, exactly half of attorneys polled expect ESG-related demands to increase further, and 45% foresee needs remaining steady. ESG demand has risen notably in the US and Netherlands over the past year. Driving urgency, 68% of law firms have set up specialized ESG teams within the last three years.

Technology Use Expanding, But Work Remains

Currently, 87% of legal professionals say technology has improved their daily work. However, just 46% believe they are fully capitalizing on tech capabilities. Half are still transitioning towards more advanced usage.

Lawyers continue facing pressure from clients to expand the use of technology for efficiency, productivity, and collaboration. A top priority for 46% of firms is leveraging tech to improve productivity amid client requirements. The vast majority (85% of firms, 84% of legal departments) expect to make greater use of tech boosting efficiency.

Recruiting and Retention Challenges Emerging

The difficulty of attracting and retaining top talent stands out as a major obstacle. A full 81% of attorneys see recruitment and retention as a key focus area moving forward.

Firms expect demand to rise for lawyers with specialized skills rather than generalists. Enabling remote work options is also key for talent, with 89% citing tech for telework as important. On diversity, most are satisfied with their organization’s efforts, but 43% still lack formal diversity, equity and inclusion policies.

Blending Innovation With Emerging Demands

The Wolters Kluwer survey highlights the legal field’s rapid integration of innovations like AI, while addressing emerging talent needs and still-developing areas like ESG. Firms must balance adopting cutting-edge technologies while formalizing their approach to environmental, social and governance demands in order to deliver greater value to clients and society.

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Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery


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