Lawyers have long been characterized as technology Luddites who are slow to change and wary of innovation. For corporate counsel, though, this stereotype may be fading. According to the results of a new Thomson Reuters report, "Ready or Not: Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Legal Departments", corporate counsel believe they are tech savvy but acknowledge that their comfort level and confidence with technology have limitations, specifically around artificial intelligence (AI).

The applications and impact of AI are growing, and AI tools will undoubtedly affect how the legal profession practices over the next decade. Consider how dramatically technology inventions have already changed the practice of law: From typewriters to computers and from fax machines to email, each advance has been transformative in the law. Lawyers have accepted and adopted each of these evolutions. AI is the next frontier.

To better understand corporate counsel’s knowledge of and comfort with the use of artificial intelligence in the profession, Thomson Reuters conducted a survey of 207 in-house attorneys to measure current perceptions regarding the use of AI in corporate legal departments and the perceived benefits of AI once adopted.

EXCERPTS FROM THE REPORT

CURRENT PERCEPTIONS OF AI: GENERAL USE AND ADOPTION

Corporate counsel’s perceptions around AI range from positive to skeptical to unaware, with most in the latter categories. The survey initially asked about comfort levels with mainstream technologies within legal departments.

Of the respondents, 51% came from legal departments with fewer than six attorneys, 14% worked in departments with six to 10 attorneys. Respondents’ roles in their departments broke down as follows: 26% as assistant or associate general counsel, 23% as general counsel, 22% as counsel, 12% as attorneys, 5% as deputy general counsel, and 12% as “other” roles.

Six key terms in artificial intelligence

Developing a better understanding of AI starts with getting to know the language. This brief primer can help corporate counsel become more familiar with the basics of this technology.

Algorithm: A formula or set of rules for performing a task; AI software uses algorithms to make predictions from the data sets it analyzes.

Artificial intelligence: An area of computer science focused on developing software that can make decisions, reason, and problem solve.

Bots: Technology that simulates human conversation; also known as “chatbots.”

Deep learning: A type of AI that attempts to mimic the activity of neurons in the human brain in order to recognize complex patterns in data sets.

Machine learning: The capability of algorithms and software to learn from data and adapt with experience.

Natural Language processing: The capability of algorithms and software to structure, interpret, understand, and generate human languages, focusing mostly on written text.

Read and download the full report. Or visit the larger Legal Department 2025 Resource Center from Thomson Reuters.