What Are the Challenges To AI Adoption In The Legal Industry? 10 Experts Share Their Insights

  • 24 September 2019
  • Sam Mire

The law is not immune to bureaucracy, and even if one lawyer or firm would like to embrace the latest tech, the system of law may not permit it. This is just one of the many challenges to widespread introduction of artificial intelligence in the legal sector. Recognizing these hurdles is the first step towards a rising trend in AI implementation within the law.

These industry insiders identified the hurdles and shared their views of the greatest challenges facing AI introduction in the law. Here's what they said:

1. Avi Brudner, Chief Operating Officer at Blue J Legal

“Separating the wheat from the chaff.  It's easy for companies to slap the phrase artificial intelligence onto something, but it's hard to differentiate the companies that are actually leveraging AI to increase value for the end customer. ”


2. Thomas J. Hamilton, LL.B., B.C.L., VP, Strategy and  Operations at Ross Intelligence

“Obsolete inertia. But the reality is this is nothing new. Lawyers are slow to change, and for good reason. It's on us, as the technology companies (and former attorneys) dedicated to changing our profession for the better, to make tools that are so good that even attorneys who have been doing things the old fashioned way for 40 years will see the value in using our technology. Attorneys are busy people so the value needs to be substantial, but it also needs to be immediate.”

3. Cat Casey, Chief Innovation Officer at DISCO

“The legal sector, especially law firms, continues to have a large knowledge gap in terms of the use cases for AI, the mechanisms powering it, and the ubiquity of AI in non-legal functions.”



4. George Simons, founder of SoloSuit and Lawble

“B2B Legal tech companies that offer AI products to lawyers have an uphill battle against slow adoption. Sure, Casetext can analyze and research your entire brief with a click of a button, but when the idea of tech-savvy for most lawyers means being Microsoft Word proficient and they're most excited about a keyboard with a § symbol on it, that's a tough battle to win.

B2C legal tech companies have an easier approach since it is legal
consumers who feel the greatest pain from lawyers efficiency and inability to adopt technology. However, in this space legal tech companies must navigate the narrow path of ethics pitfalls.”

5. Richard Mabey, co-founder and CEO of Juro

“There are two:

– This is a profession designed to be risk-averse, so change management is really hard; and

– Legal teams have been burned before by technology that over-promised, under-delivered, and failed to be adopted because it was poorly designed.

Vendors must focus on UX and delivering real value – quickly – if they expect to make any impact.”

6. Stewart J. Guss, Attorney At Law

“Many firms that look start adapting AI in their practice are overwhelmed at the breadth and depth of what is available in the marketplace. Similarly, many firms (particularly those with limited experience with AI or advanced tech) can find themselves frozen in place because the shift to AI seems too much to take on. The trick to avoid these pitfalls and adapt the technology is to do so gradually. Look for smaller, more “digestible” tasks for your first foray into AI. Make sure that all relevant staff are involved in the on-boarding and training process, and be patient with your staff during implementation. A measured, but committed approach to the incremental adaptation of AI technology is the surest way to success.”

7. Eric Podlogar, IP Market Lead at ktMINE

“There is still a gap between practitioners and answers provided by AI.  Attorneys and other legal professionals need a working understanding of the data behind the answers before they can properly consider options and pivot strategies. Otherwise, these professionals could find themselves in an uncomfortable situation if they don't understand the data and confidently defend their conclusions. AI processes have to become less opaque and more transparent before confidence in the results can increase. For the time being, human-assisted AI will outperform technology alone.”

8. Katherine Pawlak, Partner at Wasserman, Bryan, Landry & Honold and Rasmussen College Paralegal Instructor

“In the past, the largest challenge to the implementation of AI in the legal world was cost. However, as AI becomes more mainstream, that concern is falling by the wayside except when it comes to smaller and boutique law firms.. The main concern today is the ethical implications of using AI. Lawyers have ethical obligations of competence and diligence, which necessitates an understanding of the methods used by the AI, and the capabilities and limitations of those tools. Understanding the methods and capabilities of AI can be a major challenge depending on the intricacies of the particular AI being used.”


9. Kenneth A. Grady, Adjunct Professor and Research Fellow at Michigan State University College of Law

Apart from the challenges I have identified already, the biggest challenge is solving “meaning”. Law depends heavily on the meaning of words, how they are combined, implicit and explicit logic, argumentation, and interpretation. AI, to oversimplify, focuses on pattern recognition. AI works well when asked to pick out a pattern (e.g., indemnification) from a dataset (e.g., contracts).

Much of law involves lack of patterns or analogizing from weak patterns. A client presents a set of facts. No cases, statutes, or regulations address those facts. The lawyer attempts to predict how the law will address the client’s facts from how it has treated other facts. She then constructs an argument to support the prediction, adhering to legal principles. AI cannot do any of these tasks in law. Until AI can conquer “meaning” it will face adoption challenges in law.”


10. Michael Fetzer, CTO & Co-Founder of Legartis

“AI is colliding with an industry that has hardly been digitized to date. At the moment, there is still a lack of willingness in some places to accept the changes that AI will bring with it. Since AI is to be understood as a tool, the first step is to learn how best to use it. In this process, technicians have to learn from lawyers and vice versa.”

Have expert insights to add to this article?

Share your feedback and we'll consider adding it to the piece!


About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.