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Vol.17 Issue 2 (2021)

In-House Counsel, the Adoption of Artificial Intelligence, and Legal Ethics

Dr. Felicity Bell & Prof. Michael Legg

In-house counsel have become a large and influential group of lawyers in many jurisdictions. When it comes to transactional and regulatory work, they play a key role. Nevertheless, in-house counsel are also under pressure to create efficiencies in legal work, with tightening legal budgets and ever-growing volumes of regulation. Artificial intelligence (AI) applications are often suggested as a means of creating these cost savings. There is a strong business case for using AI in this context as routinised work lends itself to economies of scale. But what are the implications of using AI, for the in-house lawyer? They must ensure that professional ethical standards are being adhered to. They must also be, effectively, a change manager – encouraging their staff to use the tech options available. And finally, they must be a team player, supporting and supervising the use of tech by both lawyer and non-lawyer employees. This article describes the uses of AI by in-house counsel before examining what it demands of them in their role.


Prof. Legg is Director, Law Society of New South Wales’ Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) Research Stream at UNSW Law and Justice. Dr. Bell is a Senior Research Fellow of the society.

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