The legal world is undergoing a significant transformation with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), and lawyers are embracing this change despite their traditional resistance to technology. By leveraging AI solutions, law firms have an opportunity to become more efficient and accurate in their day-to-day duties in the areas of analysis, research, compliance, and more.
This begs the question: Can AI replace your lawyer? We recently tasked Chat GPT to write a legal memo in a quest for these answers. The short answer: Proceed with caution in relying on AI—it is not ready to replace your attorney. Not yet, at least.
What Is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is an advanced language-based tool that responds to human inputs. Trained on a wide range of Internet data, it has garnered attention for its impressive capabilities, leading to both cautionary tales and practical applications.
ChatGPT can assist with tasks like customer service, content generation, market research, language translations, and automating repetitive administrative tasks. OpenAI also has other language models, including ones focused on text analysis and generating long-form content, as well as a visual model called DALL-E.
Despite concerns about AI, conversational AI like Siri and Alexa and AI-powered features in everyday tools like Google Search, maps, and autocorrect have already become a part of our daily lives.
We started with a simple prompt: “Please draft a legal memorandum on [[topic]], citing Texas legal authority as support.” Within seconds, we had a legal memorandum that looked like it came from an enterprising young lawyer seeking to impress the higher ups. However, it came with a disclaimer: AI is not a substitute replacement for professional legal advice.
The AI bot had provided a high-level answer to our question, followed with multiple citations to what appeared to be specific opinions by the Texas Supreme Court and Texas appellate courts. But when we entered the citations into Lexis to review the cited legal authority, we could find no matches.
We researched the high-level question whether an aggressive or passive approach should be taken. That high-level advice again turned out to be inaccurate. AI advised a passive approach where the case law suggested a more aggressive approach is required. We found specific cases that a passive approach may harm the hypothetical claim in the long run.
The legal memorandum we requested from the AI bot would have passed muster at first glance and would even make that enterprising young lawyer look great to a partner or court that didn’t check his or her work.
Legal AI Landscape At Large
A recent Thomson Reuters report reveals that corporate counsel are recognizing the importance of technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), in their profession. While they consider themselves tech-savvy, they also acknowledge limitations in their comfort level and confidence with AI.
Of the respondents, 51% came from legal departments with fewer than six attorneys, indicating that AI adoption extends to smaller departments as well. The survey revealed that 35% of the respondents worked in departments with more than 11 attorneys, suggesting that larger legal teams are also recognizing the value and potential impact of AI tools. The breakdown of respondents’ roles in their departments showed that 23% held the position of general counsel, indicating that even senior legal professionals are engaging with AI and recognizing its significance in their roles.
Generative AI can be a valuable tool in the business world. Legal AI tools for attorneys can enhance legal services, ultimately saving time and improving outcomes for the client. That said, as we reflect on our AI research journey, it becomes evident that AI is not yet ready to replace your attorney.
The AI-generated legal memorandum may impress at a cursory glance, but its limitations and inaccuracies underscore the importance of relying on the expertise of human lawyers. As technology advances, AI may have a role to play in legal research, but for now, the wisdom of experienced legal professionals remains invaluable.
So, when it comes to the complex intricacies of the law, let us not forget the unique insights and discernment that human attorneys bring to the table.
Thomson Reuters. (n.d.). Artificial Intelligence (AI) Report. Retrieved from https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/en/insights/articles/artificial-intelligence-ai-report
American Bar Association. (2017, September). 7 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Benefit Your Law Firm.
Association of Legal Administrators. (2023, May). The Right Generative AI Is a Legal Professional’s Friend, Not a Foe. Legal Management.
Thomson Reuters. Legal AI Tools: Essential for Attorneys. Legal Solutions Blog.
Wired. ChatGPT: Generative AI Is Coming for the Lawyers.