The Importance of Human Oversight in AI Decision-Making: Lessons for Attorneys and the Legal Profession

Jun 30, 2023


In a world where AI’s potential is sparking both curiosity and concern, a recent study commissioned by Workday and discussed in Forbes by Joe McKendrick, “Executives Not Inclined To Remove Humans From AI Decision-Making,” sheds light on a crucial perspective from the very executives deciding whether or not to replace workers with AI. The study reveals that top executives globally are not quite ready to hand the reins over to AI. For legal professionals, especially those in large firms eyeing AI-driven cost-cutting measures, this study offers valuable insights that extend beyond the corporate boardroom.

Embracing the Human Element in AI’s Era

Let’s face it – AI is dazzling, but it is not the be-all and end-all. The study reveals that a whopping 93% of surveyed executives firmly believe in the necessity of human input when AI makes calls. While AI’s data-crunching prowess is undeniable, it is our human intuition and ethical compass that make the difference, especially when the stakes are high.

The executives are responding to AI decision-making in a business setting, but legal professionals can still learn a lot from the results. Our threat is likely not an external one. Companies and executives will still turn to lawyers for legal decision-making and are unlikely to trust a machine with major legal decisions. What does the distinction “external” mean? It means that our threats to job security are likely to be generated internally within the legal industry as lawyers and law firms use AI to increase productivity and eliminate repetitive tasks typically staffed by support personnel and other attorneys.

Confronting Critical Concerns: Data, Ethics, and Expertise Gap

When we peek behind the executive curtain, we discover a number of critical concerns. In the study, around 77% of respondents voiced concerns about the integrity and timeliness of the data fueling AI systems. There have been a number of high-profile articles and cases of discriminatory bias in AI data sets, and that is likely to put early adopters on edge.

Another concern is ethics. A mere 29% of executives are fully confident in the ethical application of AI in business. It is really a question of decision-making. Leaders are not yet convinced that AI is prepared to make smart and ethical decisions. This is an awesome opportunity for legal professionals to enter as gatekeepers. A lawyer’s ability to advocate for transparency, accountability, and ethical AI practices can serve as a guiding light in an increasingly complex landscape.

The final concern is the skills gap – 72% of executives acknowledge their organizations’ AI proficiency gap. Many businesses are ready to take the dive into using AI but lack trained personnel to make it happen. Additionally, businesses may see the potential for implementing AI but lack the expertise to turn potential into reality. These same problems plague the legal industry.

For example, it is great to hear about the multitude of tools available to conduct data analysis and streamline discovery; however, many firms lack the experts to analyze the firm’s business to determine what the actual needs are. There are also business-side concerns, like whether adopting an AI solution is a cost-effective measure given the firm’s portfolio, and whether the firm has key operating personnel to run and maintain the program.

As businesses seek to integrate AI into their business models, law firms look to do the same. The lawyer and legal professional can use the results of the executive’s concerns to generate some simple guiding principles:

  1. Finding Harmony between AI and Human Ingenuity: As legal professionals, your knack for balancing human insights with AI’s computational power can forge a new path in decision-making. The concern is that AI cannot make the tough decisions, emphasizing enhanced productivity over reasoning is the right way to present your skills when confronted with AI-driven tools and innovations.
  2. Ethics: Businesses do not yet trust AI to make sound ethical decisions. This is a great opportunity for lawyers to take the lead in crafting ethical AI guidelines that align with legal and moral standards, ensuring AI remains a force for good. A well-informed lawyer can keep the emphasis of legal work on human decision-making where ethical rules are better established.
  3. Empowering through Education: Through workshops and training, legal practitioners can decode the complexities of AI, equipping them to confidently navigate this evolving landscape. Lawyers well-schooled in AI can be transformation leaders for business and law firms.
  4. Data Guardianship: As data stewards, legal experts can ensure that AI’s foundation is solid, and grounded in credible, secure, and compliant data. Additionally, lawyers are at the forefront of protecting customer and client data.
  5. Seamless AI Integration: Collaborate with executives to chart strategic AI integration plans that merge AI’s potential with ethical considerations.


In a world where AI’s allure is matched only by its complexity, the Workday study serves as a guiding compass for professionals seeking to strike the right balance between AI’s capabilities and human judgment. For legal experts, this study isn’t just a glimpse into executive thinking; it’s a roadmap to harness the power of AI while upholding the timeless values of ethics and intuition. By incorporating these insights, legal professionals can confidently traverse this transformative landscape, seamlessly fusing the enduring essence of law with the boundless possibilities that AI offers.


Q: What does the recent Workday study, highlighted in Forbes, reveal about the stance of global executives toward AI?

A: The study underscores that a significant 93% of executives believe in the necessity of human oversight in AI-guided decisions, emphasizing the continued importance of human judgment.

Q: How does the study’s finding regarding human involvement align with AI’s capabilities?

A: Despite AI’s data-crunching abilities, the study highlights that human intuition, nuanced ethical judgment, and contextual awareness remain irreplaceable factors in decision-making.

Q: What major concerns do executives express regarding AI integration?

A: A significant 77% of executives worry about the credibility and timeliness of data feeding AI systems, raising concerns about data integrity and reliability.

Q: How can legal professionals address ethical concerns related to AI applications?

A: Legal experts can play a pivotal role by advocating for transparency, accountability, and ethical benchmarks in AI-guided decisions, ensuring that AI aligns with legal and moral standards.

Q: What role can attorneys play in bridging the AI skills gap and facilitating education?

A: Attorneys can step in to address the skills gap by organizing workshops and training sessions, collaborating with tech experts to empower fellow legal practitioners with essential AI knowledge and skills.

Original Article: McKendrick, Joe. “Executives Not Inclined To Remove Humans From AI Decision-Making.” Forbes, 28 Jun. 2023,