How Legal Ops Can Help Corporate Attorneys Trust (and Use!) Generative AI

March 25, 2024 By Bernadette Bulacan

In case you needed any more evidence that generative AI is going to change how the legal professional works in the year to come, here it is: In this year’s survey Law Department Operations survey, cosponsored by Icertis, nearly 87% of respondents said generative AI is either already having an impact on their operations or will in the next 12 months.

Considering that this technology was hardly discussed before 2023, the speed at which it is making an impact on business is nothing short of breathtaking. 

Contracts, in particular, are proving to be a popular use case for generative AI, with analysts reporting a “spike” in inquiries about applying AI to business agreements.

This year’s LDO survey adds depth to this insight, uncovering where legal ops see the most opportunity – with drafting assistance, contract review, clause suggestion, and summarization emerging as the most common contract application for generative AI.

This can all make generative AI in legal a fait accompli – the new table stakes for technology needed to do legal work.

Yet I would remind legal operation leaders of another analyst insight – this one coming from Gartner’s 2023 hype cycle report: generative AI is at peak hype right now. If it follows the normal emerging tech lifecycle, a “trough of disillusionment” should be expected as teams implement generative AI and meet face-to-face with its limitations.

Approached the wrong way, generative AI’s trough of disillusionment for legal teams could be especially deep. Trepidation is growing; stories are already legion of lawyers relying on ChatGPT and paying the consequences for the technology’s hallucinations. 

I was recently discussing generative AI with the GC of a major professional services firm, and she noted an important dynamic: Whereas legal professionals use language to demonstrate an understanding of the nuances of business and risk, generative AI uses language to mimic that understanding: “The challenge of generative AI being so fantastic at grasping language is that it gives the impression of having grasped expertise,” she noted. “Our role as the ultimate arbiter of the output of the system is going to be incredibly important.”

Now, just in case I’m giving the impression that I think legal teams should hit pause on generative AI until all the kinks are worked out, and all the troughs crossed – let me be clear: There is NO hitting pause on generative AI.

What I am saying is legal operations teams have a massive job ahead of understanding how generative AI works so their legal colleagues can use it safely and with confidence. Whether for generative AI applied to contracts or other business processes, ask vendors hard questions about what data is being used to generate answers, and how the data fed to the model is being used. When it comes to contract data, a lot might be negotiable, but data security is not one of them. 

One upshot of my conversations with legal professionals is that we’ve moved past the trepidation of “AI will take our jobs.” Indeed, with AI, we have our work cut out for us.

Learn more by accessing Icertis’ exclusive report based on the LDO survey results, “Finding CLM Value for Legal in the Age of Generative AI.”


Finding CLM Value for Legal in the Age of Generative AI

For 16 years, the annual Law Department Operations Survey has been the go-to resource for legal operations leaders seeking to stay ahead of the curve. In this supplemental report, we dive deeper into the top findings from the survey - including how legal ops professionals are responding to the seismic impact generative AI has on legal and the quickly evolving field of contract lifecycle management.

Explore the Findings