Can Generative AI Replace Your Lawyer?
The emergence of ChatGPT and other similar programs in recent years has revolutionised the tech space, prompting questions and concerns about whether generative artificial intelligence (‘AI’) has the potential to replace human professionals. It was reported in March 2023 that the newest update of ChatGPT could pass the United States bar with a result that would place it in the top 10% of law students. With results like these, many people are asking if AI can replace your lawyer. In this article, our commercial law team will explore the capabilities and limitations of generative AI in the legal profession.
WHAT IS AI?
You have likely heard of ChatGPT, Bard by Google and Bing AI. They are the most accessed text-based generative AI available on the internet and are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they advance at an unprecedented pace. Chat GPT has over 100 million unique users and nearly 1.5 billion visitors per month. Generative AI is quickly changing how we live our lives, and revolutionising how we work.
Generative AI is relatively simple to use. You type in a prompt, such as a request or question, and the generative AI provides a coherent and relevant response that mimics human-like text. Generative AI is trained on vast amounts of text data from the internet, which it uses to collate information and identify key elements or patterns in human text. It then uses this information to answer the prompts given to it. Generative AI has the ability to translate languages, summarise or paraphrase text, create programming code and create written content, such as stories, blogs, reports and documents.
THE RISE OF AI IN LAW
AI is disrupting many industries and the legal industry is no exception. There are many ways AI can be incorporated into law firms to assist lawyers and increase their productivity. At a basic level, AI can be utilised to enhance document management, making it more efficient to save, store and locate legal documents as it can quickly analyse a large volume of data in seconds. Similarly, AI can be used to assist in legal research, which is a time consuming task for humans, but it takes AI seconds to search and summarise relevant laws. It can also be used to automate the drafting of documentation, allowing lawyers more time to focus on complex drafting and the nuances of each matter. If used correctly, AI has the ability to increase productivity and reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks.
That said if you ask ChatGPT whether it can draft legal documents, it will tell you it can help provide templates, explanations and guidance on the required content and structure of a legal document but warns that it is not a substitute for legal advice and cannot provide legal advice tailored to your situation or jurisdiction. This is a warning that should be taken seriously, as there are many pitfalls of utilising generative AI.
LIMITATIONS OF AI IN LAW
ChatGPT, Bard by Google and most other generative AI provide a disclaimer below the search bar, reminding users that they may produce inaccurate information. It should also be noted that ChatGPT’s database of sources is limited to what was published on the internet up until September 2021, and it does not have access to real-time information. Meanwhile, Bard by Google can access the internet in real-time but cannot distinguish the quality of sources online, which may result in it using inaccurate information.
There have been a number of reports of generative AI providing inaccurate information, with a slew of cases being raised against the developers of ChatGPT for defamation, including an invented sexual harassment allegation. Lawyers have also been warned against using generative AI in their work after a solicitor in Manhattan made the news when he unknowingly presented a fake case to the court. The solicitor used ChatGPT to draft the legal briefs and did not fact check the work done by ChatGPT, which included a made-up case, and presented it as evidence. He received a fine for acting in bad faith and providing false and misleading statements.
While generative AI can understand and generate text, it doesn’t have the legal expertise, experience and nuanced judgement that human lawyers possess, including providing information relevant to your jurisdiction, nor is it able to navigate the complex emotional and ethical situations that often arise. AI isn’t required to comply with the ethical responsibilities that human lawyers do, such as the duty to act in the best interest of the client.
Due to the nature of generative AI, which is trained on internet data, it is possible that generative AI may be providing information that violates copyright or trademark protections. Generative AI does not provide explanations or references for the information provided to the user, which means the user may unknowingly infringe existing copyright.
WHAT WE THINK
There is much we can learn from AI, but the user must have an understanding of its limitations, including its lack of legal expertise, accuracy issues and privacy concerns. For these reasons, generative AI should not be used to obtain legal advice or for legal drafting.
Professor Michael Legg, a legal expert from UNSW Law and Justice, recently told Lawyer’s Weekly that while anybody, or any entity, can provide legal information, “the provision of legal advice needs to be done by a human lawyer because it’s not enough to get the law right; it needs to be applied to a client’s circumstances and needs”.
The legal profession will likely evolve with the increase of acceptance and use of AI. However, it is unlikely a human lawyer can entirely be replaced with AI. The importance of real time strategic thinking, empathy and human judgement will remain a crucial part of the legal profession.
RAMSDEN LAWYERS – HOW WE CAN HELP
In an ever-changing world, there is no substitute for quality legal advice. While AI and technology have made significant advancements, the complexities of the legal landscape demand the nuanced expertise that only experienced lawyers can provide. At Ramsden Law, our dedicated team of legal professionals are committed to delivering tailored solutions for your specific needs and concerns. When you choose to contact us for legal advice, you’re not just accessing information, you’re engaging with a team that strives to protect your rights and interests. If you are in need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to see how we can help you.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance to the subject matter and must not be relied on as legal advice. Specific advice should be sought about your circumstances.