Leadership is key to the careful and compassionate adoption of AI

July 3, 2023

Article written by Miklos Orban, head of gunnercooke legal tech.

Sensational predictions around the disruptive potential of AI technology are nothing new.

The ‘robots’ have been coming to take away legal services jobs for at least a decade!

Undoubtedly the pace of development and ease of access to increasingly powerful tools marks the start of AI’s move into the mainstream.

The resulting ubiquitous media coverage around the threat it poses, particularly to peoples’ livelihoods, is creating widespread unease.

Whilst governments scramble to show leadership in terms of regulation, business leaders must now step up and play their part in balancing the opportunities and risks.

Using vision as a guide

Full disclosure…gunnercooke has a legal technology arm that is well advanced in the practical application of AI and automation to increase speed of delivery, lower costs for clients and enable our people to focus on higher value work.

Like so many leaders I recognise that harnessing technology is key to service quality and remaining competitive, but I’m also acutely aware of the challenges created by the speed of change and resulting uncertainty.

For me, your core vision and purpose should provide a consistent guide for how AI is integrated into your business.

Technology should change processes, not principles.

Using vision as a steady and coherent reference point will help steer decision making, mitigate some of the uncertainty and ensure the business remains anchored to its purpose no matter how AI evolves.

Leaders need to engage stakeholders effectively to frame adoption in this way and help them make sense of any change.

Yes, engagement is about anticipating concerns, understanding perspectives and being proactive, responsive and transparent in your communications.

But it’s also about bringing people together and ensuring collective ideas and insights help shape how technology is applied to improve roles and deliver the business’ vision. 


If it’s not already, then the implementation of AI may need to become a significant component in your organisation’s ESG strategy.

The unforeseen impact it could have on your business, employees and stakeholders cannot be underestimated.

Leaders should take a central role in overseeing the development of agile policies and governance frameworks that provide internal guardrails and ensure AI is used responsibly and ethically.

These should be created and maintained collaboratively involving a diverse and inclusive team. The wider business must have a stake in how technology is adopted, clearly understand their own responsibilities and feel empowered to voice concerns or report risks.

The shape of ESG policies will vary, but a universal factor should be a commitment to invest in employee development and training.

As a leader you are ultimately responsible for ensuring your workforce can learn and transition to new roles that harness the latest AI technologies and practices.

Commenting on the legal services industry, gunnercooke’s Chief Technology Officer Miklos Orban makes it clear that this focus on upskilling will be vital to our individual and collective futures:

“A lawyer who understands AI and law can use it more effectively than her clients, and can integrate AI into her services to make them far superior to her competitors. Hence, it is more appropriate to say that lawyers will be ‘affected’ or ‘challenged’, rather than ‘replaced’, by AI. It is more of a case of lawyers working with AI that will replace lawyers who don’t.”

Conscious capitalism

A major concern in the AI debate is that Darwinian capitalism will win out, with huge redundancies as business replace tasks previously carried out by humans with more cost effective and productive AI.

This has created a persistently negative narrative that’s unsettling for a great many people.

As a leader it’s beholden on you to place human considerations front and centre and ensure this commitment is articulated and evidenced to the rest of your organisation.

Managing change is always a sensitive and emotional process that requires huge amount of empathy and careful consideration.

AI is not a ‘technology issue’ that can be outsourced to IT, HR or transformation specialists. It’s probably one of the most significant and profound challenges leaders have faced. 

Put simply, similarly to other big technological advancements in history, AI also has the potential to change the world for the better.

It will only destroy jobs and create more inequality if leaders let it.

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