Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge-based Work in the Legal Field

The legal profession faces a potentially game-changing challenge—staying current with new technology. Bloomberg Law found that more lawyers are now unfamiliar with legal technology compared to previous years. In 2022, 55% of law firms reported that knowledge gaps held back their use of legal technology—up from 40% in 2020.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are disrupting knowledge work in the legal field. AI programs such as ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion change how we work, including legal work. They have the potential to revolutionize knowledge work in all sectors.

AI is not advanced enough to replace high-level decision-making or complex problem-solving—yet. Opportunities exist to automate business tasks that are often manual, prone to errors, and don't effectively utilize workers' skills.

The Future of Knowledge Work in the Legal Profession

In June 2023, New York personal injury attorney Steven Schwartz made headlines for using ChatGPT to help write a court filing. Schwartz was caught when people looked up the cases, rulings, and quotes in the filing, only to find they didn’t exist. ChatGPT made them up.

Schwartz’s chatbot blunder is a cautionary tale—knowledge work automation that leverages AI can backfire. However, AI-powered process automation in the legal profession is a near certainty in the coming decades. Even a majority of lawyers agree that the effective use of AI will make or break law firms’ success over the next five years.

Managing Knowledge Work and Innovation

Many knowledge workers, including lawyers, clerks, paralegals, and other legal staff, are worried about AI. But AI is not here to steal workers’ jobs. AI isn't (and may never be) capable of abstract thought such as legal reasoning. Rather, AI automation is perfectly suited for handling uncreative, time-consuming busy work that wastes knowledge workers’ time.

Automation of Knowledge Work

Knowledge workers, such as attorneys, are well compensated for their abilities. They combine fact-finding and creative thinking to solve unique problems. Ideally, legal professionals would spend all their time using their know-how to solve legal-related problems. In reality, they spend a lot of time manually recording, storing, and organizing data.

The goal of robotic process automation (RPA) is to eliminate the busywork so knowledge workers can make full use of their creative and analytic skills. RPA software can create bots that perform tasks automatically by analyzing how people use a computer interface.

Document automation is another important technology for the legal field. Document automation systems pull from existing documents to generate time-saving templates. These automated templates can include the kind of complex functions and logic often seen in knowledge work.

Document automation systems also help with common document management tasks such as version control and personalization.

Legal professionals can also benefit from workflow automation tools. In the course of their duties, these workers develop an institutional knowledge base, including effective knowledge of common workflows. Workflow automation tools help workers streamline business processes by creating a structured workflow to guide them.

AI and Automation of Knowledge Work

Knowledge management tools such as RPA, document automation, and workflow automation software are hardly new in the information technology world. New AI technologies are enhancing existing tools, making them more powerful, accurate, and intuitive than ever.

With the right AI-assisted platform, knowledge workers can use natural language to ask questions and analyze data. They can also summarize documents written in any language. With AI, it becomes much easier to identify trends in large data sets containing both structured and unstructured data. Plus, knowledge workers can generate brand-new content based on samples or prompts.

Legal professionals, in particular, should be excited about the capabilities of large language models (LLMs). LLMs can comb through legal documents to search for precedents. They can also analyze those precedents for key legal concepts and help generate legal arguments.

Information Automation and the Future of Legal Work

Digital transformation is occurring rapidly and is similar to the rapid growth of the Internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s. AI-assisted, knowledge work management platforms are eliminating information chaos and maximizing RPA, document automation, and workflow automation.

Digital disruption will eventually drive the legal profession to deploy productivity-boosting tools, improving efficiency and return on investment.


What do knowledge workers stand to gain from automation?

Employee job satisfaction hinges on boosting knowledge and skills. By minimizing the time that legal professionals spend on mundane tasks, automation can improve efficiency and enhance job satisfaction.

What is knowledge workflow management?

Knowledge workflow management refers to systems and strategies an organization uses to manage its knowledge work. Workflow management software helps organizations streamline tasks to save time, reduce human error, and boost productivity. Adding automation to the mix reduces the time it takes to track down information, follow up, or seek approvals.

What are the benefits of information management systems?

Information management systems help make relevant information more readily available and make information management more secure and efficient. Law firms use systems to manage information that help solve problems such as finding documents, controlling versions, managing workflows, and accessing files on mobile devices.