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Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Displace Legal Practitioners?

posted 4 months ago

Author: Fitri Astari Asril

Introduction

A decade ago, the idea that technology would significantly impact the legal profession, based on analysis, logic, and intuition, seemed unfathomable. The legal landscape appeared impervious to imminent threats from technological advancements. However, over time, technology has replaced many vital functions once carried out by humans, including in the legal domain. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence, particularly exemplified by ChatGPT, has generated enduring debates, as its capability to furnish direct responses to intricate questions, formerly necessitating legal experts’ analysis and understanding, reflects society’s growing propensity to depend on AI, given its efficiency in promptly addressing simple queries and handling complex matters by drawing from extensive training data.

The questions loom large: Can AI fundamentally displace the legal profession and its related positions? Or, conversely, can AI create a new paradigm that optimizes the performance of lawyers? To what extent can legal practitioners overcome these challenges, and how far does the “security” of AI implementation serve the interests of lawyers and the legal practice?

What is AI?

Even though there is no universally accepted definition of AI, AI systems have been defined as machines that imply human-type of behaviour, in the sense that it is meant to signify actions done by computers that require intelligence when done by humans.[1] Taking a look at history, actually, in the 17th and early 18th centuries, the term “AI” was not introduced explicitly at that time.[2] However, Gottfried Leibniz, a German mathematician and philosopher, developed a formal mathematical language for logical thinking. This work actually implied an intelligent presence to aid human tasks through formal reasoning. [3] In the 1950s, Alan Turing, a key figure in World War II, wrote a paper titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” exploring the possibility of computers that could think.[4] The paper crystallizes concepts of the possibility of programming an electronic computer to act intelligently, introducing the influential imitation game known as Turing’s Test. This test takes a simple pragmatic approach, assuming that a computer that is indistinguishable from an intelligent human actually has shown that machines can think.[5]

The Role of Lawyers in the Advancement of AI

The legal profession, reliant on language expertise, is considered both lucrative and particularly vulnerable to recent AI advancements. The emerging technology can swiftly recognize, analyze, and generate text, adeptly handling tasks typically associated with lawyers. A study by researchers from Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and New York University identified “legal services” as the industry most exposed to AI’s impacts. Economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that up to 44 percent of legal work could be automated, with office and administrative support jobs slightly higher at 46 percent.[6]

Lawyers’ work is expected to undergo changes, and in some instances, it may even decrease. With a potential reduction in administrative tasks, the need for clerical assistance might lessen. As technology enhances lawyers’ abilities, they could spend less time on tasks like writing, reading, searching, and contemplating. Although such factors can be incorporated into AI systems like Chat GPT, it lacks the legal capacity and specialization needed to analyze intricate legal provisions specific to certain business transactions or legal proceedings. The human factor and professional judgment of experienced lawyers play a crucial role in interpreting situations. Lawyers undergo years of training to understand, act, and navigate specific situations, and this expertise cannot be replaced by AI at present.

The Integration of AI in the World of Lawyering

The incorporation of AI into the legal field offers tremendous potential and substantial advantages. AI greatly enhances lawyers’ capacity to generate tailored documents, significantly reducing the time traditionally required for this task. Its utilization also leads to improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness in legal services. By automating repetitive and administrative tasks, AI enables lawyers to devote more attention to intricate matters, resulting in cost reduction. AI efficiently handles routine duties such as legal research, analysis, document management, and billing, which contributes to the overall success of legal practices. Embracing AI introduces a new realm of possibilities for the legal profession, empowering lawyers to deliver even higher quality services while effectively managing their time and resources. Below are examples of tasks that AI can undertake in the context of legal practice:

 

    1. a. Legal Research;

    1. b. Document Review;

    1. c. Legal Due Diligence;

    1. d. Contract Review;

    1. e. Legal Writing (assist in drafting legal documents, letters, and briefs, improving efficiency and consistency);

    1. f. Intellectual Property Searching and monitoring;

    1. g. Legal Compliance (Ensuring legal compliance which can monitor and assess regulatory changes, aiding businesses in staying compliant with evolving legal requirements);

    1. h. Document management;

    1. i. Etc.

Drawbacks of AI in the Lawyering’s realm

Nevertheless, a judicious approach is paramount when relying on AI-generated data, given that AI technology is still evolving and may encompass limitations and errors that could have adverse ramifications if not cautiously and effectively managed.

Ethical considerations regarding potential bias in AI algorithms raise concerns about inaccuracies and misinformation dissemination. AI tools, like ChatGPT, have occasionally provided inaccurate or fabricated information, highlighting concerns about their reliability. While AI speeds up specific legal tasks, it cannot replace the expertise and critical judgment of human legal professionals. The author’s attempt to use ChatGPT to summarize a CJEU case (Eva Painer case) resulted in inaccurately citing the case with the wrong parties, exemplifying the potential for AI to generate false information, known as “AI hallucination.” Additionally, AI can provide information that appears factual but is entirely fictional, describing events that never actually occurred.

An examples happens in the USA where a federal court in the US imposed $5,000 (€4,600) fines on two lawyers and a law firm on Thursday in an unprecedented instance in which ChatGPT was blamed for their submission of fictitious legal research in an aviation injury claim.[7] The judge said the lawyers and their firm, Levidow, Levidow & Oberman, PC, “abandoned their responsibilities when they submitted non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations created by the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, then continued to stand by the fake opinions after judicial orders called their existence into question”.[8] Another one happened where the civil case heard in Manchester during the proceedings. The barrister for the represented one party argued that there was no precedent for the case being presented. However, upon closer examination, it was revealed that one case name was fabricated, and the other three cited cases had completely different judgments than what was claimed. The paragraphs quoted from all four cases were entirely fictitious, yet they appeared authentic. Further investigation revealed that the unrepresented litigant had used an AI tool, ChatGPT, to find cases supporting their argument. The AI tool provided case names and created excerpts that seemed relevant. The judge questioned the litigant, who admitted to using the AI tool. Although the misleading submissions were unintentional, the judge did not penalize the litigant for the AI-generated content.[9]

The aforementioned incident escalated into significant repercussions, leading not only to the imposition of fines upon the law firm and the implicated lawyer but also resulting in severe damage to their reputation due to their overreliance on technology. Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at New York University School of Law, said the issue was particularly acute among lawyers, who have been debating the value and the dangers of AI like ChatGPT, as well as the need to verify whatever information it provides.[10]

AI and Client’s Data Protection

To fully harness the potential of AI in legal practice, it is indispensable to develop reliable and secure AI solutions tailored explicitly to the legal profession. Ensuring utmost confidentiality and privacy of firm and client information becomes a pivotal priority in the implementation of AI products used by attorneys.

Large Language Models or LLM serves as the foundational framework for renowned AI like ChatGPT (GPT-4), relying on data for its training. OpenAI has informed users that prompts entered into the system are stored and may be used for training, cautioning against sharing sensitive information to avoid confidentiality breaches. Concerns about data protection arise from the use of inputted data by individuals, such as lawyers, which AI developers may utilize. In response to ChatGPT’s data leak and calls for safeguarding personal data, OpenAI introduced a Personal Data Removal Request form, albeit currently limited to certain regions like Japan and GDPR-covered Europe.

Despite being aware of the data security and privacy risks, numerous lawyers have already incorporated AI, such as ChatGPT, into their legal practices due to its widespread use and powerful capabilities. As law firms adopt AI technologies like ChatGPT, the utmost importance must be given to safeguarding privacy and data protection, especially considering the sensitive nature of their work and the clients they serve. Law firms can utilize ChatGPT’s capabilities while ensuring the confidentiality and security of their clients’ information through several measures. These measures include implementing secure data transmission and storage procedures, anonymizing data, and conducting thorough due diligence about the data input on the prompts. Nevertheless, a critical limitation lies in the ethical and confidentiality concerns arising from the use of ChatGPT. As mentioned earlier, ChatGPT generates responses based on prompts provided by human users, ranging from simple questions to complex legal document analyses. It is strongly advised against including confidential client data as prompts in AI systems. The machine can process such data, and human hands (AI engineers) may also have access to it, potentially leading to a breach of the lawyer’s code of ethics in case of any inadvertent disclosure of client data due to negligence or mistakes.

Conclusion

The author’s standpoint emphasizes the optimization of time efficiency and effectiveness, rather than considering AI as the ultimate determinant of a legal opinion. Human analysis significantly differs from AI, and lawyers bear a moral responsibility to safeguard their analytical skills honed through years of education. Relying excessively on AI-generated opinions may jeopardize the credibility of law firms and legal practitioners. Therefore, lawyers should skillfully explore the use of AI to enhance legal analysis and resource efficiency when assisting clients. They ought to proactively adapt and integrate AI into their practice, recognizing the impact of AI on the legal world. Importantly, careful consideration must be given to avoid including sensitive client information in AI systems. AI learns from training data, rendering the input vulnerable to reprocessing and accessibility. Hence, human involvement in understanding and utilizing the data becomes indispensable. In conclusion, lawyers can leverage AI to improve efficiency, but they should exercise restraint in excessive reliance on it.

In conclusion, while AI presents valuable opportunities for legal professionals, a discerning approach is imperative to acknowledge its limitations, exercise caution, and continuously seek professional legal counsel to ensure precise and contextually relevant outcomes for clients. As AI technology continues to evolve, the widespread integration of AI in the legal industry is poised to expand, underscoring the need for sustained attention to its ethical implications and its profound impact on the legal profession.


[1] Abbott, Ryan, The Reasonable Robot – Artificial Intelligence and The Law, p. 22.

[2] Russell, Stuart J, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, p. 4.

[3] Russell, Stuart J, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, p. 4.

[4] Russell, Stuart J, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, p. 17.

[5] McGuire, Brian, History of Computing: The History of Artificial Intelligence, University of Washington, https://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep590/06au/projects/history-ai.pdf, p. 5.

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/10/technology/ai-is-coming-for-lawyers-again.html

[7] Rachel Shin, Fortune.com, “Humiliated lawyers fined $5,000 for submitting ChatGPT hallucinations in court: ‘I heard about this new site, which I falsely assumed was, like, a super search engine”, 23 June 2023, <https://fortune.com/2023/06/23/lawyers-fined-filing-chatgpt-hallucinations-in-court/ >accessed on 2nd August 2023.

[8] Euronews and AP, “Lawyers in the US submitted bogus case law created by ChatGPT. A judge fined them €4,600”, 23 June 2020, <https://shorturl.at/CPR49> accessed on 2nd August 2023.

[9]John Hyde, The Law Social Gazette, “LiP presents false citations to court after asking ChatGPT”, 23 May 2023, accessed on 2nd August 2023 <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/lip-presents-false-citations-to-court-after-asking-chatgpt/5116143.article>

[10] Benajamin Weiser, the New York Times,  “Here’s What Happens When Your Lawyer Uses ChatGP 27 May 2023, <https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/27/nyregion/avianca-airline-lawsuit-chatgpt.html> accessed on 2nd August 2023.

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