Lawyers in the UK are wary of the government stepping in to regulate the profession’s use of artificial intelligence - but not as wary as their transatlantic colleagues, international research has revealed. 

According to a study by legal information giant Thomson Reuters, 48% of lawyers in UK firms and 50% of in-house lawyers believe that the legal profession should self-regulate its use of AI. Only 36% of lawyers in UK firms and 44% of UK in-house lawyers say that the government should regulate their use of AI.

Enthusiasm for government regulation is notably higher than in North America: only 26% of lawyers surveyed in the US and Canada think the government should regulate AI.

Kriti Sharma, chief product officer for legal tech at Thomson Reuters, said: 'Regulation plays a critical role in instilling the trust needed to achieve widespread adoption of AI solutions. That said, it’s exciting to also see firms 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.' 

Kriti Sharma

Kriti Sharma, Thomson Reuters chief product officer for legal tech

Source: Thomson Reuters

A measure entitled the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill was one of the casulaties of the dissolution of parliament for the general election. However the Bar Conference heard at the weekend that, whatever the result of the poll, a measure can be expected in the next King’s speech.  

The Thomson Reuters report shows that the top three barriers preventing lawyers from making more use of generative AI in their work are:

  • The potential for inaccurate responses (74% of lawyers see this as a concern)
  • Concerns about data security (68%)
  • Complying with relevant laws and regulations (63%) 

The Thomson Reuters 2024 Report on the State of the UK Legal Market also found that, of the lawyers who say their firms and departments are using generative AI, the most common uses of the technology are document review, legal research and document summarisation.


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