Change on the horizon: The evolving IP legal profession

By the year 2030, it is likely the legal space will look and operate differently to today, resulting in reshaping the way IP professionals at law firms and in-house councils work. What could this mean for the future of the IP legal profession?

Today’s global workforce is experiencing significant, swift and continuous shifts. Customer needs are evolving. Retirement eligibility is increasing. The growth of artificial intelligence (AI) is forecasted to cause even greater changes.

These shifts are impacting the way business is done within law firms and in-house corporate legal teams. To keep pace, IP legal teams are trying to understand the downstream impact on traditional lawyering and what is needed to successfully navigate the evolving IP ecosystem into the future.

To help, Clarivate recently released two resources that explore the current state of AI in IP and the importance of embracing change to prepare for what is on the horizon:

Changing expectations will undoubtedly influence the current norms of IP law and practice, forcing the industry to reimagine the roles of people, process, data and technology in the way IP is created, protected and managed.

What is the current state of AI in IP?

According to Forbes, AI is projected to see an annual growth rate of 37.3% from 2023 to 2030 and the AI market size is estimated to reach $407 billion by 2027.

What does that mean for the IP legal industry? The interplay between IP, AI and the wider legal industry is complex. To get a pulse-check of the perception of AI in the IP industry, Clarivate surveyed 575 IP and research and development (R&D) professionals from law firms and corporations worldwide between July 17 and August 1, 2023.

One attorney pointedly said, “Practitioners and clients need to lead the change instead of being pulled along by startups and new tech.” Clarivate found respondents were skeptical about AI deployment but keen to realize benefits. 67% of respondents were most excited about adopting AI for automating manual tasks. While 74% expressed reservations about AI, with accuracy being the top concern.

The full survey results can be found in the report: Redefining Artificial Intelligence. How IP practice meets the coming wave.

Harnessing AI technology & innovation

Advancements in AI are providing legal teams with new ways of harnessing technology to offset resource constraints. AI can help staff scale to meet growing workloads, automate routine tasks and free up time for higher value work.

  • Digitalization

There is a shift toward more consolidated technology stacks to improve scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Cloud-based solutions, such as IPFolio from Clarivate, enable IP operation management from a flexible, centralized hub.

  • AI and automation

At the same time, IP professionals show growing adoption of next-generation technologies to automate repetitive tasks and focus on higher-value strategic matters. Gartner predicts that by 2024, legal departments would have automated 50% of their legal work relating to major commercial transactions.

 Read the related blog: Unlocking New Applications of AI: What IP Practitioners Need to Know Before Selecting an AI-based Solution

Preparing your people for the Great Retirement

Alongside the rise of AI, another significant event is expected to impact the legal industry. There is great anticipation around the potential effects of the sizable “Baby Boomer” generation leaving the workforce, also known as “The Great Retirement”:

As a result, prioritization is needed for knowledge transfer, supporting non-traditional and diverse candidates, and focusing resources on training, upskilling, and outsourcing. Legal teams can prepare their people though:

  • Upskilling and reskilling programs

As legal functions evolve from conducting standardized legal work to digitally enhanced and impactful service delivery model, upskilling and addressing potential skill gaps is critical.

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

Organizations are shifting towards a more diverse talent base as well as implementing initiatives to foster the development of leadership skills for women in IP.

  • Expanding talent pipelines by recruiting nontraditional candidates

Companies now seek candidates from nontraditional backgrounds for their valuable perspectives and experiences. Gartner also predicts that by 2024, legal departments will replace 20% of generalist lawyers with nonlawyer staff.

Leaning into data

Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of data associated with their intangible assets. However, when using data, analytics and intelligence for efficient and informed decision making it’s important to remember not all data is worth fighting over. When it comes to AI, it can only ever be as good as the input data.

  • Data driven decision making

IP portfolios are growing in volume and in strategic value. Analysis of large volumes of data can help predict what is likely to happen and promote effective decision making. While AI solutions can quickly extract deeper insights from large volumes of data, the reliability and validity of these insights depend on the types of data used.

  • Data privacy and cyber security concerns

With more remote work and online deliverables, there is a higher threat to virtually held data and increased scrutiny on where said data is stored. Many organizations and their legal counsel are challenged as legal professionals deal with sensitive information, privacy and data security risks. In addition, new applications of AI could expose organizations, law firms and governments to new vulnerabilities, and these should be top of mind as IP practitioners balance the opportunities and risks.


As change continues to come at a faster pace, setting IP teams up for success is key to surviving the constant shifts. Responsibly leveraging AI and proactively preparing teams for change can help law firms and corporate teams stay ahead of these shifts.

Interested in learning more? Watch the on-demand webinar: The future of the IP legal profession: Balancing the rise of AI with human expertise

To see how Clarivate can help your IP team become faster, people focused, and more flexible, contact us today.