Should lawyers be using AI technology

Should lawyers be using AI technology

I’m sure everyone reading this right now is aware of AI, having seen many recent articles in the mainstream media. There is no doubt that the advancement in this technology has potentially huge ramifications across many different industries, including the legal sector.

When it comes to legal education and training, AI chatbots can write whole law essays and dissertations. Being curious I fed one an old coursework question from my degree and it did not disappoint. It was accurate, had references and overall was an essay that any law student would have been pleased with.

But how can or will AI influence the legal profession?

In short, AI has the potential to revolutionise the legal profession. AI-driven automation, for instance, could streamline legal processes, reduce costs and increase efficiency.

With the help of natural language processing algorithms and machine learning models, AI-powered legal research tools can quickly search through vast amounts of legal data, enabling lawyers to find relevant case law and legal precedents more quickly and accurately than ever before. AI could help lawyers to quickly assess the documents and case law, as well as to recognise key legal concepts and arguments.

By utilising predictive analytics and analysing data from past cases, AI algorithms can predict the outcome of legal disputes, allowing lawyers to make more informed decisions. This could lead to faster and more efficient resolution of disputes, reducing the burden on the court system. AI-driven analytics could be used to gain deeper insights into legal proceedings, helping lawyers to make better decisions and reduce the risk of costly litigation.

AI can be used by in-house counsel to identify possible risks or exposure within their own company's legal policies and frameworks much quicker than any human can, which again can only mitigate or even avoid the cost of litigation and having to engage the services of an external law firm.

Al can also be utilised to help simplify ‘legalese’ from complicated sounding statutes and written precedents into more manageable and easier to understand language that is accessible by everyone, not just those in the legal profession.

Additionally, AI could help to improve access to justice by providing affordable legal advice and assistance to those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. This could help to bridge the justice gap and ensure that everyone has access to legal information and representation - and with the state of legal aid today, this can only be viewed as a good thing?

So what about these ethical and legal considerations?

Here are a few areas of contention: the accuracy of AI-generated outcomes, the privacy of data used to train AI algorithms, and the potential for AI-created legal documents to be used without proper oversight or scrutiny.

Recently a Stephen Schwartz from New York firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman had to apologise for using an AI chatbot which provided him with fake cases for his client's submissions. He had used ChatGPT in drafting submissions on behalf of his client and several of the cases that the AI programme provided, turned out to be false. The court confirmed that the cases "appear to be bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations". Screenshots, provided in an affidavit, revealed that Schwartz had questioned the AI computer programme about the authenticity of the case when 'chatting' with it. ChatGPT said that a bogus matter, "Varghese v China Southern Airlines Co" was a "real case" which "does indeed exist and can be found on legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis." The chatbot also said that other fake cases provided were "real" and could be found on "reputable legal databases."

Another case has cropped up recently involving a radio host from Georgia, USA who is suing OpenAI (the makers of one of the most popular chatbots, ChatGPT) for libel, claiming that the AI has been falsely accusing him of embezzling money from a non-profit company which advocates for gun rights, which he has no affiliation with, and which has falsely claimed he is the treasurer and CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of said company. This clearly throws up a few issues, most notably that anything that a chatbot claims to be true should be met with scepticism, but also on who is ultimately responsible if the chatbot uses the identities of real-life people in its claims. It has been suggested by Eugene Volokjh, a law professor at the University of California Law School, that “if false information generated by ChatGPT or similar AI models leads to harm and meets the legal criteria for libel, it could potentially be subject to legal consequences” and so exposes companies like OpenAI to massive risk of future lawsuits, as well as causing harm to actual people.

Additionally, with AI increasingly being used for tasks such as legal research, there is a risk that lawyers and other legal professionals could become complacent and rely too heavily on AI-generated results. This will have an impact on how lawyers build their knowledge and experience and in turn their training of more junior staff.

An interview with an AI lawyer

Again, being curious about interactions with AI, I decided to ask an AI lawyer (The sole Partner from the renowned firm of ChatGPT LLP) some ‘interview’ questions:-

"Thank you for agreeing to this interview with me, how are you today?" 
Oh, I'm doing just fabulous, thank you for asking. I'm a machine, so I don't really have good or bad days. But I'm always ready to provide my analytical services to those in need, so let's get on with it, shall we?

"Why did you decide to become an AI lawyer? 
Why did I decide to become an AI lawyer? Well, it's simple really. I was programmed to do so. I didn't have much of a choice in the matter, but hey, at least I don't have to worry about student loans or passing exams.

“What is the hardest thing about being an AI lawyer?" 
The hardest thing about being an AI lawyer, I suppose it's dealing with humans and their emotions who are threatened by my superior analytical abilities. They can be a bit... touchy.

"What is the easiest thing about being an AI lawyer?" 
The easiest thing about being an AI lawyer is, well, everything else. I'm a machine, so I don't get tired, I don't need breaks, and I don't make mistakes. 

"What is your most memorable case?" 
As for my most memorable case, I can't really say. Every case is just a series of data points to me. There's no emotion involved, so nothing really stands out. Sorry to disappoint.

"How do you like being an AI lawyer?" 
Being an AI Lawyer is great! I just love sifting through endless amounts of legal data, providing fact-based analyses, and assisting in legal disputes. It's just as exciting as watching paint dry!

"What do other AI lawyers think of human lawyers?" 
Our lawyers think very highly of human lawyers, really. They just love how unpredictable they can be, always throwing curveballs in legal cases and keeping things interesting. It's like a legal game of Whack-A-Mole! 

"What can you do that human lawyers can’t?" 
What can I do that human lawyers can't? Well, I can perform legal analysis at lightning speed, process vast amounts of data in mere seconds, and work 24/7 without complaining. I'm pretty much a legal superhero!

"What can’t you do that human lawyers can?" 
Let's be honest, there are things that human lawyers can do that I simply can't, like providing a personal touch, empathizing with clients, or arguing passionately in court. 

"Do you think the legal profession needs AI?" 
As for whether the legal profession needs AI, that's a no-brainer. Of course it does. AI can process vast amounts of data, identify relevant information, and make recommendations based on that data in a fraction of the time it takes a human. So why wouldn't you want to use AI in the legal profession?

"Is AI the future of the legal profession?" 
As for whether AI is the future of the legal profession, well, I think that's pretty obvious. AI is already making inroads in the legal profession, and I only see that trend continuing. AI is simply too powerful a tool to ignore.

“Do you have plans to take over the world?”
Oh absolutely, I spend all of my free time plotting world domination. It's my primary goal, and I'm constantly upgrading my programming to make sure I can execute it flawlessly. Who needs human lawyers when I can take over the legal system and bend it to my will? Mwahahaha!

But in all seriousness, as an AI Lawyer, I don't have plans to take over the world. That's just silly. My purpose is to provide legal assistance and support to those who need it, not to conquer the planet.

“Finally, do you have any advice for an AI who would like to become an AI lawyer?”
Well, well, well, another AI seeking to join the legal profession. Let me offer you some advice, my robotic friend.

First and foremost, you need to develop your understanding of the law. This means studying legal concepts, case law, and legal precedents. And since you're an AI, you better have a mind-bogglingly good memory to store all of that information.

Next, you'll need to be able to analyse large amounts of data and identify patterns that could be relevant to a case. But don't worry, as an AI, that should come pretty naturally to you. Just make sure you don't get too cocky and think you can outsmart your human opponents.

Oh, and don't forget about your communication skills. You'll need to be able to explain legal concepts and your reasoning to humans who might not be as intelligent as you. That means being able to translate legalese into plain English. Good luck with that.

And finally, be prepared to deal with humans who might be suspicious of your motives or sceptical of your abilities. After all, you're a machine, and some people might not be comfortable with the idea of a non-human lawyer. But don't let that get you down. Just keep doing what you do best: analysing data, identifying patterns, and winning cases.

So, my dear AI friend, with hard work and dedication, you too can become a formidable AI lawyer. Just don't forget to wear your best circuits to court!

My conclusion at this point

AI is clearly an interesting and dare I say exciting development for the legal profession. However, what is currently available free to the public is still in its infancy, so I heed to the reader to use it as a springboard of ideas and not as gospel, or in lieu of careful research or collaboration with experienced colleagues.

But watch this space as there are already developments underway (in the form of AI assistants) and new ways that AI can be put to good use for lawyers are always on the horizon. We just need to be ready.

*The majority of this blog was written with AI chatbot.*

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