Guest blog: How will AI impact dispute resolution?

  • 19 December 2023

In this guest blog, FTI Consulting Senior Managing Directors Samuel Aguirre, Leonardo Florencio and Karthik Balisagar explore the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal industry. Revealing insights from a comprehensive survey of over 100 legal practitioners worldwide, the authors explore the current landscape, challenges, and the slow adoption of AI in dispute resolution. With a focus on bridging the knowledge gap and establishing clear guidelines, they shed light on concerns, but also significant benefits AI adoption could bring.

In a recent legal case, lawyers used ChatGPT to prepare their arguments. It cited cases that were completely fictitious, no doubt causing those lawyers a great deal of embarrassment. But the game-changing potential of properly implemented AI technology – namely, its ability to process unlimited amounts of data and render outcomes that are unencumbered by human emotion – may be transformative for the entire legal industry. Law firms that can achieve advanced levels of AI competency will enjoy a massive competitive advantage in the decades to come. 

FTI Consulting conducted an online survey of more than 100 lawyers, arbitrators, mediators and other legal practitioners worldwide from firms of all sizes, asking them for their opinions about the use of AI in the dispute resolution industry.  

There are few outright objections to the use of AI in the legal community. While the potential applications of AI in dispute resolution services are extensive, there are also challenges. If the concerns about AI tools are left unaddressed, the use of AI may be relegated to basic tasks, and legal practitioners may miss opportunities to develop more meaningful applications that can significantly enhance their practice. 

Despite the ubiquity of AI in the news, the survey indicates that lawyers are generally unfamiliar with AI tools. The greater the unfamiliarity, the greater concerns they have about the accuracy and consistency of outcomes and overreliance on the technology. Yet, while many respondents expected the use of AI to increase over the next three years, few are planning any substantial investments in the technology. 

How is AI being used today in dispute resolution? 

As in other industries, the implementation of AI in legal services presents a significant opportunity for practitioners, with the potential to revolutionise the disputes industry and transform the way legal and expert services are delivered. But the adoption of AI-powered tools in dispute resolution services is slow and not without its challenges. 

The survey findings reveal that AI-powered tools currently are not widely prevalent in dispute resolution. Currently, e-discovery and document review and drafting are the most popular areas to apply AI. Only a few practitioners say their firms explored the use of AI in other more complex use cases, such as predictive case outcomes, legal research or drafting deposition questions. 

Only one-third of those surveyed say their firms have clear guidance for the use of AI in disputes, with larger firms leading the way in establishing clear guidelines and frameworks. Additionally, 23% claim they do not have any guidelines or frameworks when it comes to the use of AI in their dispute practice, and another 25% say the existing guidelines and frameworks are not clear. 

How can we speed up AI adoption in the dispute resolution industry? 

Legal practitioners tend to agree that AI-powered tools can enhance the credibility and persuasiveness of legal arguments in disputes, a sentiment widely shared among those with more advanced or intermediate knowledge of AI technology. 

This optimism in AI is also echoed in future applications of the technology, with 64% of legal practitioners saying they believe that three years from now AI will revolutionise the disputes industry and transform the way legal and expert services are delivered. Similarly, those who are more knowledgeable about AI are more likely to agree with the statement, as well as feel more strongly about it. 

Confidence levels and perceptions of AI technology are closely tied to knowledge and practical experience, emphasising the need for bridging the knowledge gap in the legal profession. Legal practitioners who self-identify as advanced/intermediate and those whose firms have used AI in disputes in the past rate their confidence levels significantly higher than their counterparts with less experience. Greater knowledge and exposure to AI technologies can help boost practitioner confidence levels and help integrate AI solutions more successfully. In short, to capture the full potential of AI, legal practitioners will need to bridge the educational gap and law firms will need to set clear guidelines on the use of the technology. 

Who benefits from AI in dispute resolution? 

One-third of legal practitioners believe AI has significant potential to improve access to justice. Those with more knowledge and exposure to AI through their firms have a significantly higher perception of the potential of AI, suggesting that a more advanced understanding and exposure to technology correlates with a greater sense of optimism around the transformative impact of AI on access to justice. 

Surveyed practitioners believe law firms stand to benefit the most from the use of AI in dispute resolution, followed by parties belonging to the dispute and in-house legal departments. Practitioners with advanced/intermediate knowledge compared to those with beginner or less knowledge are significantly more likely to recognise AI benefits to their firms compared to their less experienced counterparts (90% vs. 66%). Also, firms with experience using AI in disputes are similarly more likely to recognise these benefits compared to firms that haven’t used AI (90% vs. 70%). 

Practitioners whose companies have used AI in disputes in the past are more likely to recognise its multiple benefits, especially in handling large quantities of information (85% vs. 57%) and automation of manual processes (54% vs. 20%), compared with those who haven’t. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, Inc., its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals. Similarly, the content of this article does not reflect the official views of the International Chamber of Commerce. 

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