A survey out today of trends in litigation and e-discovery finds that 40% of legal professionals are already using generative AI tools or are planning to do so in the near future.

The 2023 Ediscovery Innovation Report, compiled by Everlaw in partnership with the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), surveyed 245 legal professionals in the U.S. across law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, and legal service providers.

It was released on the opening day of ILTACON, ILTA’s annual conference, taking place in Orlando.

Key findings include:

  • 40% of legal professionals surveyed indicated they are already using generative AI tools (12%) or planning to do so in the future (28%) – figures the survey says are significant given the newness of the technology.
  • Over half of respondents (51%) either agreed or strongly agreed that generative AI’s impacts on the profession would be positive, helping legal professionals deliver greater client value (51%), and allowing them to prioritize higher-value work (65%). Only 29% of respondents said that generative AI risked diminishing the value of legal work in the long term.
  • Despite the optimism, 72% of legal professionals surveyed said the industry is not ready for the impacts of generative AI. An additional 21% remain undecided.
  • While legal professionals have many concerns about generative AI, apparently cost is not among them. Just 1% of respondents cited cost as a challenge in using generative AI for legal matters. The top three concerns are: inaccuracy (44%), inability to explain or justify how AI works (17%) and security (14%).
  • A majority of respondents reported being comfortable using generative AI on discrete e-discovery tasks, including identifying patterns in datasets and summarizing documents.

Interestingly, the survey found a correlation between cloud adoption and use of generative AI.

It found that legal teams that are ahead in adopting cloud computing – compared to those using on-premises or hybrid approaches – were also more likely to be at the forefront of adopting AI  and other advanced technologies.

Specifically, the survey found that cloud adopters have the highest rate (56%) of using advanced technology, where the majority of on-premises users reported that they had not used such tools in the last 12 months.

With regard to adoption of cloud technology, the survey concluded that the legal profession’s move to to cloud is firmly established. It found:

  • Legal professionals are nearly unanimous (95%) in viewing cloud-based e-discovery as soon becoming the standard for the industry.
  • 56% of respondents said cloud-based e-discovery is currently the standard approach, growing 17% year over year and nearly doubling over the past two years.
  • An additional 39% said that cloud-based discovery software will become the norm within the next year (12%) or two years (27%).

Everlaw conducted the survey during June and July.