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AI expected to transform recruiting practices in law and tax

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Professional recruiting practices are set to be transformed as AI becomes more commonplace – 74% of UK employees working in legal, tax, risk and compliance expect more work to be carried out by people who don’t have traditional qualifications, shows a major new research study by Thomson Reuters.

The Future of Professionals features insights from 1,200 legal and tax professionals across the US, UK, Canada and Latin America. As AI becomes more widely adopted in law firms, tax and accounting firms as well as corporate teams, firms could see a transformation in typical career pathways and recruiting practices.  This may involve a change in the skill sets that are in high demand, with firms likely to widen their recruiting criteria to include people with backgrounds in maths and computer science.

78% of UK respondents also believe that gender, ethnicity and socio-economic diversity will improve across the professions, with AI a key driver.

AI is expected to become so ubiquitous that 88% of UK professionals say that they anticipate mandatory basic training in AI to be introduced within the next five years. As technology becomes more sophisticated, upskilling teams will be necessary so that lawyers can utilise it to its full potential. Training and development of existing talent is a key organisational priority over the next 18 months for 21% of corporate respondents.

Overall sentiment towards AI is positive among UK professionals, with 56% positive about the prospect of AI becoming more widely used within the workplace. Their biggest hope – cited by 45% of UK professionals– with regard to AI is that it will free up time for them to focus on higher-value tasks. Their second biggest hope, cited by 41%, is that AI will boost productivity.

66% of UK professionals said providing high-quality advice is their top career motivator, and the report shows that professionals expect to see a shift in their workload towards more consultative advice. As AI adoption grows, 51% anticipate their professional skills will become more prized.

AI could boost employee engagement and reduce attrition

Productivity and efficiency gains from AI also have the potential to alleviate some of the pressures faced by professionals. Almost a third (30%) of UK professionals said their job has a negative impact on their mental health, rising to 40% amongst UK lawyers working at law firms.

The factors that have the biggest negative impact on mental health are fear of making errors, cited by 79% of UK professionals, followed by long working hours (76% of UK respondents). This compares to 51% who said lack of job security or financial security has negatively impacted their mental health.

Mary-Alice Vuicic, Chief People Officer at Thomson Reuters, says: “Professionals are hopeful that AI will improve efficiency, enabling them to focus less on administrative tasks and more on challenging and rewarding work. This could go a considerable way towards helping alleviate human capital issues such as skills shortages and burnout while improving engagement and satisfaction across the professions.”

“Upgrading training to ensure employees are ready to adopt new technologies will become an even greater area of focus for firms as they seek to harness the opportunities AI offers. For the first time, we have five generations in the workforce. Companies will need to adjust training and overall change management to accelerate the adoption of AI for all employee segments,” Vuicic says.

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