How artificial intelligence can be used to enhance the recruitment and acquisition of top talent in the legal profession is a question that corporate law departments need to study
In a rapidly evolving legal landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for general counsel and legal operations professionals within corporate law departments. Thomson Reuters’ recent report, Future of Professionals, delves into the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and more specifically generative AI (Gen AI) and other significant changes that are very likely to impact the legal industry over the next five years.
The research also points to the greatest transformation occurring at the intersection of talent and technology.
The AI revolution in professional services
The most compelling finding of the Future of Professionals report is the role of AI and Gen AI as the most transformative forces in professional services. It’s not just a trend — it’s a seismic shift that is already underway and will continue to accelerate beyond 2025. AI is no longer on the horizon — it’s here, and its influence on the legal industry is profound.
AI is already making its mark in various aspects of legal work, from document review and due diligence to contract analysis and legal research. Its ability to automate repetitive and manual tasks not only enhances efficiency but also frees up valuable time for legal professionals to focus on higher-value work. This shift has significant implications for talent development and the evolving skill sets required in the legal field.
The intersection of talent and technology
While AI and especially Gen AI are undoubtedly game changers, they are not a replacement for human expertise. The Future of Professionals report underscores that true transformation will occur at the intersection between talent and technology. Leaders of corporate law departments must recognize that technology alone isn’t enough; it’s the people who harness this technology that drive innovation and success.
Here’s how this intersection is reshaping the legal landscape:
- Developing talent opportunities — As AI automates routine tasks, legal professionals have the opportunity to upgrade their skills and develop more complex and strategic aspects of their work. This evolution promotes continuous learning and personal growth within legal departments.
- Evolving needed skill sets — The rise of Gen AI and more advanced AI-driven tools will require new skill sets and potentially new roles. Leaders within corporate law departments must ensure their legal teams become proficient in data analytics, AI integration, and technology management to remain effective enough to support the business as its needs and systems evolve.
- Embracing a consultative approach — With AI speeding up routine tasks, it is expected that legal professionals will adopt a more consultative approach in providing business advice. For corporate law departments, this shift from being the Department of No to becoming trusted advisors adds value to the organization, as well as the department’s reputation.
- Offering a more positive outlook — Despite some concerns that the rise of Gen AI will lead to job displacement, this latest research report paints a largely positive outlook. AI augments legal work rather than replacing it, leading to more strategic and fulfilling roles for many legal professionals.
Law departments as forces of positive change
One crucial takeaway from the Future of Professionals report is that corporate law departments need not be passive observers in the AI revolution. Instead, they have the opportunity to lead the charge as forces of positive change within their organizations.
Here’s how legal departments can take the lead:
- Embrace technology — GCs and their teams should stay at the forefront of technological advancements and AI integration, positioning their department as a tech-savvy forerunner.
- Champion innovation — Department leaders should also encourage a culture of innovation in which legal professionals are empowered to explore AI applications and new Gen AI opportunities in order to drive efficiency gains.
- Collaborate across functions — The department should work to forge partnerships with other company departments to better leverage AI’s potential in solving broader business challenges.
- Advocate for change — Department leaders should also be vocal advocates for adopting AI and modernizing legal operations, dispelling the notion that legal is a roadblock to progress.
The Future of Professionals report paints a compelling picture for the transformative impact of AI and Gen AI in the legal industry. GCs and legal operations professionals have an opportunity not only to adapt but also to lead this transformation. By embracing AI, nurturing talent, and championing innovation, corporate law departments can redefine their role within organizations and become positive agents of change in this dynamic era of legal services.
Embrace the future — it’s here to stay.