Do Small In-House Legal Teams Use A.I.?

A survey of 300 in-house legal teams of <10 ppl found only 14% are using AI tools for improved productivity and only 3% consider themselves mature users.

Across the legal sector, generative AI has dominated headlines for the past year. Specific to the in-house community, it’s been reported that 25 percent to 83 percent of Legal Departments are using AI tools.  

Not only are these statistics wildly inconsistent, they neglect to account for the size of the legal team – a factor that can have a major impact on a team’s budget, access to technology and even time available to research and experiment with new tools. 

For AI and more, Xakia wanted to understand the true state of legal technology within smaller legal teams. (And, given that the Association of Corporate Counsel reports the median in-house staff size is six, one could also say it’s the true state of legal tech in the average legal team.) We surveyed 300 legal teams of fewer than 10 people; respondents represented a variety of industries, roles and team sizes, from solos to teams of 6 to 10, and they weighed in on their current adoption and implementation of ten types of legal tech. 

When it comes to AI, what’s really happening within small Legal Departments? 

Here are three key findings: 

1. AI is being used by just 14% of small teams.

This means AI being used at any level of sophistication. When we analyze the numbers for level of maturity, it’s a starker picture: 

  • 3% are “mature” users; 
  • 4% have implemented a solution, but the use is immature 
  • 7% have started to implement a solution. 

Data showing AI used by small in house legal teams

2. AI is not a near term focus for small teams.

At present, AI is an item of interest, but for most respondents, it will stay on the wish list for the near future. More than half – 51% – said AI will be  a “longer-term consideration,” while 20% said they have started a search for AI tools. 

3. Solo teams view AI differently.

When it comes to adoption, team size matters. Even for small teams – or maybe especially for small teams – a few extra bodies can make a big difference; the legal tech landscape can be radically different for a team of one than a team of 6 to 10. 
That is certainly evident with AI: 
  • While the overall rates of adoption are low, teams with at least two lawyers are three times more likely to be using AI than teams of just one. Only 4% of single-lawyer teams use AI now, compared with 17% of teams of two to five, and 15% of teams of six to 10. 
  • The size discrepancy also manifests with the Legal Departments who say they will not use AI: 22% of teams of one say they are not interested whatsoever, while that drops to 15% of teams of two to five, and drops further to 10% of teams of 6 to 10.
AI for small in house legal teams by size 

This mirrors overall digital maturity within smaller Legal Departments. 

What productivity tools ARE small teams using?

What small teams are using: proven solutions for everyday matters. Across nine categories of legal tech, AI has the lowest rate of adoption at 14% – so what are small teams using? The top three correspond directly make day-to-day work more expeditious and efficient: 
  • Document management: 57%
  • Matter management: 50%
  • Contract management: 46%

About one-third of respondents report using reporting/analytics and legal intake.  


Xakia - legal software solutions for Teams under TenWant to know more? Xakia’s latest white paper, Legal Tech for Teams Under Ten, will help you benchmark against your peers, scout trends, and understand how exactly legal tech is deployed in the small team context.


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