UK lawyers prefer self-regulation over government control for AI use

Forty eight percent of UK lawyers believe that the legal profession should manage its own AI use

UK lawyers prefer self-regulation over government control for AI use

Lawyers in the UK favor self-regulation of their use of artificial intelligence (AI) over government intervention, according to international research conducted by Thomson Reuters.

The study revealed that 48 percent of lawyers in UK firms and 50 percent of in-house lawyers believe that the legal profession should manage its own AI usage. In contrast, only 36 percent of lawyers in UK firms and 44 percent of in-house lawyers support government regulation of AI.

This preference for self-regulation is more pronounced in the UK compared to North America, where only 26 percent of surveyed lawyers in the US and Canada think the government should regulate AI.

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Kriti Sharma, Chief Product Officer for legal tech at Thomson Reuters, commented on the findings, "Regulation plays a critical role in instilling the trust needed to achieve widespread adoption of AI solutions. That said, it’s exciting to see firms also taking clear steps to self-regulate, such as investing in AI skills training and setting robust guidelines, so they can start harnessing its benefits now while also ensuring its safe use."

Despite the dissolution of parliament for the general election, which halted progress on the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill, the Bar Conference indicated that a new measure could be expected in the next King’s speech, regardless of the election outcome.

The Thomson Reuters report highlighted the main barriers preventing lawyers from utilizing generative AI more extensively in their work. These concerns include the potential for inaccurate responses (74 percent of lawyers), data security issues (68 percent), and the challenge of complying with relevant laws and regulations (63 percent).

The 2024 Report on the State of the UK Legal Market by Thomson Reuters also revealed the most common applications of generative AI among lawyers. Those who report using AI in their firms and departments primarily utilize it for document review, legal research, and document summarization.

Ultimately, the report underscored the need for law firms to adapt to clients' changing needs and expectations, particularly in leveraging legal technology to enhance service delivery and efficiency.

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