The world of law is traditionally associated with meticulous research, complex documents, and lengthy processes. However, in recent years, the legal industry has witnessed a significant transformation through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). One specific area of AI that is garnering attention is generative AI, which has the potential to revolutionize how law firms operate. Yet, despite its potential benefits, generative AI remains relatively unknown to many in the legal profession.
According to a recent Thomson Reuters Institute report, many law firm attorneys support the prospect of generative AI and tools such as ChatGPT having a place in the practice of law. The report revealed that more than 80% of law firm leaders surveyed said they believed generative AI can be applied to legal work now, and more than half thought it actively should be applied to legal work – a view we share at Rooney Law.
Not surprisingly, strong opinions arose, not only about the potential sea-change in the delivery, pricing, and execution of legal services that the broader use of generative AI could bring but also about the unknown risks that such usage could pose.
The report highlighted that many are still unsure precisely what generative AI is or what it can do. Yet, considering the slow pace at which law firms have adopted technology in the past, this is an understandable feeling, given that the public release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT occurred only in November 2022.
The report also found that 36% of respondents did not know whether their firm had risk concerns around generative AI usage. Even those respondents who reported their firm had underlying concerns over these advanced technologies counted a lack of technological maturity as one of those barriers. The concerns included – the need for insight/ability to control algorithms, data sets, and assumptions/biases of generated results. Lack of disclosure of disclaimers, boundaries, and assumptions when results return. Lack of ability to assess confidence in generated results.
We’re all for advancing technology as it relates to improving the quality of our advice to clients and reducing the time needed to complete time-consuming tasks; see our recent article on The Benefits of AI in Managing Unstructured Data In Case Law. Here are a few examples of where generative AI is adding value in law firms:
Legal Document Generation: One of the primary applications of generative AI in law firms is the automation of legal document generation. With the assistance of generative AI models, law firms can streamline the creation of contracts, agreements, and legal briefs. By inputting relevant information, such as client details, desired clauses, and jurisdiction-specific requirements, generative AI can produce comprehensive, accurate, and tailored legal documents, saving valuable time for attorneys.
Legal Research: Generative AI can significantly enhance legal research capabilities. Law firms often rely on exhaustive research to prepare cases and make informed decisions. Generative AI can sift through vast amounts of legal precedents, statutes, and case law to identify relevant information quickly. It can provide concise summaries, highlight critical arguments, and even predict potential outcomes based on historical data, enabling attorneys to expedite their research process.
Contract Analysis: Contracts are integral to the legal profession, but analyzing and reviewing them can be time-consuming. Generative AI can assist in contract analysis by automatically identifying crucial terms, potential risks, and inconsistencies within legal agreements. By utilizing machine learning algorithms, generative AI can extract relevant data points, flag potential issues, and provide valuable insights to attorneys, enabling them to make more informed decisions.
Compliance and Due Diligence: Compliance and due diligence are critical aspects of legal practice. Generative AI can aid in monitoring and ensuring compliance by analyzing large volumes of data and identifying potential risks and regulatory exposure. This technology can efficiently scan contracts, financial documents, and other relevant materials, helping law firms stay abreast of changing regulations and avoiding potential legal pitfalls.
While generative AI can automate specific processes and tasks, it is not a replacement for human judgment, expertise, and ethical considerations. At Rooney Law, we strongly believe in the appropriate use of technology and consider ourselves ahead of the curve in our industry, but human oversight (“human in the loop”) remains essential. Here are a few examples of why:
Accountability and Responsibility: The legal profession requires a high level of accountability and responsibility. Lawyers must act in the best interests of their clients and uphold the principles of justice. Lawyers must review and verify the output generated by AI models to ensure accuracy, relevance, and compliance. Human oversight ensures that the decisions and actions taken by generative AI systems align with legal and ethical standards.
Interpretation and Contextual Understanding: Law is a complex and nuanced field that often requires interpretation and contextual understanding. While generative AI can assist in legal research, document analysis, and contract generation, it may only capture part of the full extent of legal nuances, legislative changes, or evolving precedents. Human oversight helps interpret the generated output, consider a case’s specific circumstances, and apply legal reasoning to make informed decisions.
Ethical Considerations and Bias Mitigation: AI systems, including generative AI, are trained on data, and there is always a risk of bias within the training data. Bias can perpetuate inequalities and discriminatory practices within the legal system. Human oversight is crucial for identifying and mitigating any biases in AI-generated content. Lawyers can ensure that the AI systems are not reinforcing unfair practices, and they can take corrective measures when biases are identified.
Complex Legal Judgment: Generative AI may excel in repetitive tasks and data analysis, but complex legal judgment often requires a deep understanding of the law, precedents, and ethical implications. Lawyers possess the expertise to weigh different legal arguments, assess risks, and make critical decisions. Human oversight ensures that generative AI is used to support legal professionals rather than replace their expertise.
Maintaining Client Relationships: Legal matters often involve sensitive and confidential information. Clients seek the counsel and guidance of lawyers, and human interaction is crucial for building trust and maintaining client relationships. Human oversight ensures that generative AI does not undermine the client-lawyer relationship or inadvertently risk attorney-client privilege but enhances it by freeing up time for attorneys to focus on client-centric tasks.
If you have any questions on the application of generative AI or need legal help, please drop us a line at +1 212 545 8022 or visit our website – www.rooney.law.
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