Attys Aren't Loving Their Firms' Tech. AI Aims To Change That.

This article has been saved to your Favorites!
Lawyers' satisfaction with their firms' investment in technology has declined over the past year, a new Law360 Pulse survey shows, but new artificial intelligence tools could provide a solution.

A little more than half — 54% — of the lawyers who participated in Law360 Pulse's 2024 U.S. Lawyer Satisfaction Survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their firms' investment in tech, down from 63% last year. This year's survey received 1,259 responses and included artificial intelligence in the question for the first time.

"People want to have the most seamless technological experience," Amy Tenney Curren, senior director of attorney learning and development at Morrison Foerster LLP, told Law360 Pulse. "That's the type of feedback that we pass on to others within the firm."

Attorneys might also feel like their firms need to catch up on all of the latest legal tech innovations in recent years, according to Dale Durham, a managing director in the associate practice group of legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.

"Firms are really traditional institutions, and they're not the quickest to change," Durham told Law360 Pulse. "The pace of change out there in technology is incredibly fast."

Durham added that in some law firms, client needs often outweigh the needs of lawyers when it comes to choosing technology.

Experts say investments in new technologies, such as generative AI, could boost lawyers' satisfaction with their jobs.

Law firms are rolling out generative AI tools to help attorneys draft documents, analyze contracts, conduct legal research and improve time management.

When implemented properly, AI could encourage attorneys to focus more on critical thinking skills and analysis instead of mundane legal work.

"Gen AI has this true value of freeing up attorneys to focus on what matters most to them," Curren said.

Morrison Foerster has implemented several AI-powered tools, including an AI assistant to help staff with low-level tasks many find tedious.

Danny Tobey, the chair of DLA Piper's Americas AI and data analytics practice, says that AI could help attorneys with tasks such as summarizing email threads and reviewing large document sets.

"I think the easiest things for AI to contribute to are some of the least interesting and fun for associates," Tobey told Law360 Pulse.

DLA Piper's rollout of AI includes training programs and AI experiments. The firm has bought legal AI platforms and is interested in developing internal AI tools.

Not all firms have leaned into AI tools as enthusiastically as DLA Piper and Morrison Foerster. Durham said that some firms hesitate to implement AI due to concerns about data privacy and the reliability of these tools.

However, many partners are fully engaged with the latest AI advancements and are pushing their firms to adopt this technology.

"Being smart and intentional about investing in these technologies," whether it's large language models or other legal AI tech tools, "is a signal to folks that firm leadership has noticed that these big changes are coming, and they're not just trying to keep up, but they're trying to lead," Durham said. "They want to be leaders in how this is going to change the industry."

Tobey said that AI can improve satisfaction among attorneys because many AI chatbots are more user-friendly than previous generations of technology. As time goes on, Tobey expects more attorneys will demand that their firms use AI tools. Some lawyers might see AI adoption as a way to differentiate between firms during the hiring process.

In other words, AI in law firms will be seen as a requirement, not a luxury, particularly in the case of associates.

"With every successive class of first-year associates coming in, it's not going to be a question," Curren said. "This is part of the ecosystem in which we live."

Part of the reason that new associates expect to see AI in their law firms is because, unlike some older attorneys, younger attorneys grew up with emerging technologies.

"I think there's a generational factor here," Durham said. "Some of the older attorneys are just not as comfortable experimenting with these tools."

Law360 Pulse's survey found that associates were significantly less likely than partners to say they are satisfied with their firm's investment in technology.

Only 43% of associates were satisfied or very satisfied with their firm's investment in technology, compared with 65% of equity partners.

Curren said that AI applications can help associates formulate goals and encourage them to meet those goals over time.

Durham said AI can also reduce the amount of work associates do so they aren't drowning in document and contract reviews.

At the same time, Durham acknowledged that there is a risk that associates might miss out on development opportunities if AI does all of the low-level work for them, but firms could make up for that by homing in on those development opportunities in other ways.

Firms tend to look to partners during AI testing, but they can get associates excited about the technology by also involving them in this part of the process

When law firms invite associates to test AI tools, Durham said that associates will feel more valued and firms will get more value out of the process.

Tobey said DLA Piper gets its associates involved with testing new tools and associates come up with creative use cases for the firm.

"Learning from our associates who are on the front lines of day-to-day practice is a great way to choose where to invest," Tobey said.

--Editing by Pamela Wilkinson and John Campbell. Graphics by Jason Mallory.

For a reprint of this article, please contact



Law360 Law360 UK Law360 Tax Authority Law360 Employment Authority Law360 Insurance Authority Law360 Real Estate Authority Law360 Healthcare Authority Law360 Bankruptcy Authority


Social Impact Leaders Prestige Leaders Pulse Leaderboard Women in Law Report Law360 400 Diversity Snapshot Rising Stars Summer Associates

National Sections

Modern Lawyer Courts Daily Litigation In-House Mid-Law Legal Tech Small Law Insights

Regional Sections

California Pulse Connecticut Pulse DC Pulse Delaware Pulse Florida Pulse Georgia Pulse New Jersey Pulse New York Pulse Pennsylvania Pulse Texas Pulse

Site Menu

Subscribe Advanced Search About Contact