AI, burnout and the future of legal

Join Juro's global community of 1000+ in-house lawyers.
Apply to join
Despite the advent of AI, burnout is a serious problem in legal. Find out how technology can improve lawyers' wellbeing in this guide and webinar.
ai burnout legal banner
Click the image above to watch in full

AI, burnout and the future of legal: can technology improve lawyers' wellbeing?

Lawyers moving in-house for work-life balance are still finding that burnout is a common challenge, according to our findings in the State of In-house 2024. With lawyers still feeling buried in low-value work, can the rapid development of AI solutions help to ease the burden? We spoke to an expert panel to find out.

Our panel included:

  • Raj Mahapatra, Senior Counsel, Wilson Sonsini
  • Richard Mabey, CEO, Juro
  • Sally Clarke, burnout author, speaker, mentor & consultant

Below, the panel discuss the findings of the state of in-house 2024 report, focusing on the increasing adoption of AI in the legal industry and the prevalence of stress, well-being, and burnout among legal professionals. The panelists highlight the need for trust in AI tools and the importance of setting boundaries to avoid burnout. They also emphasize the role of technology in streamlining workflows and the need for open conversations about mental health in the legal profession.

AI & burnout: key takeaways

  • The adoption of AI in the legal industry is increasing, driven by the need for efficiency and fear of becoming obsolete.
  • Stress, well-being, and burnout are prevalent among legal professionals, with nearly 50% experiencing burnout.
  • Setting boundaries and prioritizing well-being are crucial in preventing burnout.
  • Technology can streamline workflows, but it should be used mindfully to avoid adding to the cognitive load and stress levels.
  • Open conversations about mental health are necessary to address the challenges faced by legal professionals.

Want to save 90% of time on contracts?

Book a demo to find out how Juro is helping 6000+ companies to agree and manage contracts up to 10x faster than traditional tools.

Get a demo

Richard Mabey: Welcome to everyone dialing into this Juro community webinar, the future of in-house legal, more AI, less burnout. If you're new to our community, we're around 1500 legal professionals now in the community. And if you would like to sign up, you can just go to juro .com slash community and we'd love to welcome you in. Today, we're going to reveal and discuss the findings of our state of in-house 2024 report.

This is a report we produce annually and we look at the key trends happening across in-house legal. As always, these webinars are intended to be interactive. There's some fantastic people joining. So if you have any comments or questions, just drop them in the chat or you can put them in the question tab and we'll get to as many of them as we can. Now, I would love to begin by introducing our two fantastic panelists. So first, Raj Mahapatra joining us from Wilson Sonsini. Raj, tell us a little bit about you.

Raj Maha-Patra: So I love when we talk about Wilson Sonsini and me because actually I've only been at Wilson Sonsini for about five months now. I spent the last 23 years before that working in-house wearing different hats from GC and CLO through to CFO, COO, wide scope businesses from biotech through to farming operations in Africa through to climate tech and artificial intelligence along the way as well. And I also have been ran a PR agency for seven years. So I've had a fair crack at the whip and doing different things. And Wilson Sonsini approached me the end of last year and said, I'd like to come and join them and to get an opportunity to work with this most amazing tech firm. I couldn't say no.

Richard Mabey: Well, we're really happy to have you and also massively happy to have with us, Sally Clarke. Tell us a little bit about your background, Sally.

Sally Clarke: Thanks, Richard. And thank you for having me here today. So I'm a former finance lawyer. I worked at a magic circle firm for around five years. Some time ago, I ended up doing sort of a classic mistake, I guess, of working 80 hour weeks, working myself to the bone. And I ended up collapsing at an airport in France on a Friday night once and realizing at that point that I was not well. And it actually took me a few years to acknowledge that I'd been through a burnout.

I think there's quite a stigma at that time and to this day, there's still quite a stigma attached to the term. After that, I moved into yoga, teaching, meditation, coaching, all these great, very different things. I became very curious about what I'd been through. I think that lawyer brain didn't go away and I started investigating what burnout is and why it happens. That turned into two books on the topic. I now conduct annual research and write a report together with colleagues in Australia. And I work with senior leaders across industries, including legal to look at some really preventative strategies we can use to start to dial down burnout in organizations.

Richard Mabey: Awesome. Well, we're really looking forward to hearing those experiences as someone who trained also in a magic circle firm. I understand those pressures and it was something which was probably very common, but not talked about. And so I think it's great as we go through some of the findings here, which have some really stark stuff on burnout that we have Sally here to share those experiences and give some actual tips. Let's talk a little about what we're gonna cover.

So I'll give a very brief introduction to the state of in-house 2024. And then we've just pulled out three key findings. So there's a whole bunch of stuff around AI. There are some contract-specific things which we thought would be interesting to share. And then we will go deep on stress, wellbeing and burnout, which was for me the most surprising statistic that came out of this report. We'll have a little bit of time for questions at the end, but we'll try and do them as we go. So please just drop anything you're curious about in the chat. If you'd like to grab a copy of the full report, you can head to this thing, tinyurl .com and put in in-house 2024 and you can download it there. What it is is our survey, which was responded to by 105 in-house lawyers from our community. So thanks to everyone who responded. Those lawyers sit across 25 countries. They go from CLOs to legal counsel, mostly in senior positions. And it's a great kind of set of insights around what people are thinking about today.

AI adoption is increasing

Okay, so finding number one, it wouldn't be a webinar in 2024 if we weren't talking about AI. But this was really interesting for us. So the the stats have shifted. So when we surveyed a year ago, the proportion of people using gen AI every day and every week was very, very low. It's now 44%, I think, 43, 44%, which is which has shifted. And of course, this is in line with all industries. But I wanted to start Raj by just bringing you in on this and just asking a simple question like what's driving this? Why do we believe this adoption is increasing?

Raj Mahapatra: I mean, it's funny. I think that if we've seen it before in other technologies and the one I like to refer to as an equivalent one here is Google Maps. And if you think about when Google Maps was first adopted, there were errors. People ended up down roads, down to beaches. I mean, how they did that, I have no idea, but they did end up down beaches and an alleged cliffs and things like that. And yet somehow the accuracy was good enough for people to adopt it. And there was, you know, it delivered a good enough service for people to do that.

Now, I think there's two things going here. One is, is it good enough? And we're rapidly seeing good enough, meaning is it better than not having it? Is the measure. And then the other side of it is, do you, there's an element of fear of not adopting it. If you're not using it, then what happens? Are you becoming redundant by not using it? Because actually while you can remain important, other people will be using it. The way in which they get involved in the technology and everything else means that very quickly you're so far behind the curve that when the technology's got to the right level, you're too far behind.

Richard Mabey: And it's very interesting to kind of get inside the mindset of a lawyer there as well, right? And we're all, I like to say, unique specimens of humanity as lawyers. But I wanted to bring you in, Sally, on this because the thing that whenever we run these surveys, we always hear is the number one problem is we're all buried in low value work as in-house lawyers. And I'm starting to think a little bit about, is there actual correlation between this sort of work overload that is happening and burnout. I'm just curious how you think about that.

Sally Clarke: Yeah, absolutely. Richard, I've done some specific research as well into sort of what drives, what's that extra layer that causes lawyers to burn out. And there's certainly some profession specific issues and I think even sort of in-house specific issues that we could identify. But I think that is certainly an aspect of it when we are faced with a great deal of quite repetitive low level work that can give us a sense of what we call low decision latitude. So we don't have a lot of control over what we're doing. And when that happens in sort of vast amounts combined with what we often see, which is just excessive hours and an excessive demand, this can certainly lead to some of the causes, the root causes of burnout. And I think, ideally we'd love to see AI as something that actually alleviates some of this, that can actually take some of that burden off of lawyers, but I think there's still, as Raj alluded to, significant uncertainty about how exactly that's going to look.

Richard Mabey: And we can dig, I think, a little bit into this further, because I think the general narrative is you've got too many low-value tasks to automate with AI, and I think we all kind of realize it's not quite as simple as that. So looking forward to digging in in just a moment. Raj, I want to bring you just back on use cases. This is what our survey said, which was, you know, it's quite a lot of stuff here around drafting contracts. There's a lot of stuff around summarization, but just curious among your clients, does this kind of map with the use cases you typically see or are there other things you're seeing in the market?

AI adoption for contract-related tasks

Raj Mahapatra: I think we're also seeing, you know, assessing litigation cases coming on board here as well. I, Richard, if you wouldn't hold me for one second, if you can go back to that slide. What's interesting for me about this as well is how much it's moved since last year. This time last year, I think something like 40 odd percent were saying they never saw, they can never see a case for using AI in the legal industry. So that shift is just phenomenal, the speed that's moved. So going back to the case studies again, the use cases, sorry, the idea that 46, 47 % of people are using it to draft contracts. And if you think about what that means, I can't believe people are using it to draft final forms, but maybe first cuts of documentation. I would like to know what they think. And we've got some amazing people in the audience. I'd love to know what people think this means for the future of the industry if those first cuts are being done by an AI tool and certainly reviewing contracts.

Richard Mabey: Yeah, absolutely. I've used, I have used it in the past for reviewing contracts and I know it's not good enough. Even recently, it's not good enough. So I'd love to see, you know, what people think about good enough looks like here, but this is, you know, fascinating that that many people are using it for summarizing documents, summarizing documents as lawyers. I'm always looking as a lawyer, I'm always looking for the thing that stands out as weird in a document. I'm not interested in the summary. I just want to know what's not quite right about this. And sometimes AI can get it right. And sometimes it really can't see what's weird.

Raj Mahapatra: It's so interesting that the top one isn't it? Because I mean, a year back, you're exactly right. We would have said, well, you're not going to get a template unless you're going to practical law or Lexis or your law firm where you can trust it. And now actually there's good usage happening. And we probably know it's not perfect and it needs to be tailored. But there's a real a real shift here. And I can see Hannah, thanks for jumping in on the chat, vetting for a new CMS option. And one that reviewed includes an executive summary of contracts, template clauses are fun to create using AI. And so I mean, it's a bit there's a real actual usage happening. But again, 12 months ago was really not there. It was all about the theory. Curious, Sally, as well, like one of the topics that comes up a lot here is the changing skill set required of lawyers. And, you know, when you and I were crunching out NDAs at 3am, there was a certain skill set. Do you see this sort of positively changing what, you know, we need to develop in terms of our own skill sets as lawyers?

Legal suitability for AI

Sally Clarke: It's a really interesting question, because I think there's probably quite some uncertainty and maybe insecurity among lawyers in the terms of, you know, we've done, we have the law degree, we've got the legal skills. But then having to sort of also be potentially developing this ability to prompt accurately and to really ensure that we're getting the best out of AI to understand it. It's something that it's certainly across other industries we see as well. But I think for lawyers, it can be a real, yeah, a bit of a challenge to know how is this going to, as we alluded to, potentially this is going to take a bunch of work off my desk, but how and what capacities do I need to bring to ensure that that's happening?

And that that's not creating any risks for myself or for the company more broadly. So I think it's a, it's a complex one. And my conversations with a lot of senior lawyers, I think there's still quite a lot of hesitancy and almost wanting to, wanting to see the proof that it's going to work pretty much perfectly before fully adopting, which is understandable, but also not exactly viable.

Richard Mabey: Super interesting. And Sarah's asked a great question here, which is like, what, what are people actually using? James has the same same question. I can certainly share a little bit what we hear from our communities. So there's sort of two camps. One is the Legal Tech Camp and one is other. So the other is you just use GPT Enterprise License, Microsoft Co-Pilot, which are already very good. So stuff that already lives on your desktop you don't have to buy. And then in the Legal Tech sphere, there's obviously a huge range because pretty much every Legal Tech company is doing it. But Curious Raj, have you heard of any particular ones your clients are using that get recommended?

Raj Mahapatra: I haven't really heard of people using specific tools yet. I know from my network more generally that people are using different tools. And because of where I sit now, I'm seeing new tools in development from clients of ours, which are fascinating, new things which aren't in the market yet, or just hitting the market. But I'm not really hearing much about specific tool, I think, to your point, a lot of people using the enterprise grade, chat GPT, or Claude, or, you know, a plexity for doing some research. I'd be interested again, to hear what more people are finding they're using a GCs. I've been outside of the GC community for almost a year now. It's a long time in AI, right? It's a long time in AI terms. See what's going on there.

Richard Mabey: So we've got a couple of suggestions coming into some LexisNexis AI, and, you know, Alice just using chat GPT. I think, you know, certainly CLMs pretty much all have it. I mean, we have it in Juro. We have an AI assistant for drafting and marking up contracts. Co-counsel is one we hear about a lot for legal research and we, you know, we know them well. Flank is one that some teams are using for knowledge sharing. It used to be called legal OS. So it's answering questions. But, you know, often, you know, not in my interest to say this at the end of it, actually, the tool is less important than the use case. And so there's probably multiple tools you can use for different for different things. But please do keep putting suggestions in the chat here. Definitely keen to learn from others.

Raj Mahapatra: Richard, I can see that the Annick has put a question in the question section. yes. Lawyers used to charge by the words now that plain English campaign has been running for 20 years, we have more lawyers than ever contracts shorter, more concise. I believe AI will remove paralegal work rather than lawyer work. What does the panel think? What do you think guys?

Reducing burnout

Sally Clarke: I think that no one is safe personally. I think it's, I mean, it certainly correlates with this idea of taking some of the sort of the, if we look at these use cases as well, that these might potentially be something that is done more at a paralegal level. I am, I'm hesitant to commit to any sort of side on this. I think it's going to be very interesting to see how it unpacks. And I agree, Raj, that it will probably have a significant impact at all levels.

Raj Mahapatra: Yeah. I think that in the short term, you're probably right, in the short term, it'll be paralegal or even junior lawyers who really struggle here. In the long term, I think that I wouldn't bear anything.

Richard Mabey: It's interesting. I mean, we hosted a breakfast this morning where I actually asked someone whether they had hired fewer people as a result. And there was one example of someone who was going to hire a paralegal and didn't hire the paralegal, but was successfully able to make the case to the CFO to buy an AI tool, which, you know, a year ago, wasn't really happening, to be honest. So it is kind of scary. So I think, yeah, I would agree with Anik here. Cool, keep posting in the chat. I think, yeah, Ellie says, paralegals could transition, develop more to legal ops roles. Totally. I mean, I think this is always the key to innovation. New types of roles emerge. I mean, this is the same thing that always happens in the history of everything. So I think this is a really good one. Hannah, Lexis AI, better not repeat what's being said on a live webinar, but sounds like maybe bit hit or miss. Okay, let us move a little bit forward. And so again, we wouldn't be lawyers without worrying about the risks here. So again, there was quite a lot of kind of mixed views. So these basically rank from one to five, how confident folks were, and they kind of cluster around three, sort of give me a little bit better worried about things. Raj, what are your clients worrying about?

Raj Mahapatra: So many people are worried about data privacy. And you know, there's, there's a combination of the, and I'm going to take it outside the legal community, but just using AI tools, any companies using AI tools is worried about data privacy and data protection. And it stems from the kind of the, where it started or, you know, where it started, they, these tools were just scouring the net for data, collecting it up, using it to create the models in the first place. Now. We are now told down the line that they no longer do this. Anthropic, you know, behind the Claude AI, they say they never did that. They've approached it completely differently from day one. I've talked to Brian over there, their GC. He's absolutely certain that their CEO, you know, he made a big case about the fact that he'd split from ChatGPT because of the approaches that they were taking. And I think that when you start looking at that, data privacy, you can understand why there's a concern.

This is an excerpt from the full transcript. To watch the webinar in full, click the preview at the top of this page.

Join in-house legal's growth community

Join our private community of 1000+ in-house lawyers at scaling companies for exclusive events, perks and content.

Your privacy at a glance

Hello. We are Juro Online Limited (known by humans as Juro). Here's a summary of how we protect your data and respect your privacy.

Read the full policy
(no legalese, we promise)