The Impact of Generative AI on the Legal Profession

DECEMBER 6, 2023

Over the past five years, generative artificial intelligence (AI), like ChatGPT and other machine learning models, has had a significant impact on the legal field in powerful and unexpected ways. AI offers tools designed to streamline tasks, enhance research, and optimize workflows. While these advancements promise to revolutionize many aspects of the legal system, they come with the potential for increased risk, particularly in terms of legal liabilities for the attorneys and firms who have adopted AI into everyday practices.

Applications for Generative AI in the Legal Field

The legal profession balances interpersonal skills, ethics, and judgment as law firms work on behalf of their clients. Some of the ways in which AI can benefit legal professionals include:

Document Drafting & Review: Generative AI can help draft legal documents, such as contracts, wills, and trusts. These models can produce standard clauses or sections based on input requirements. They can also help in the review of large sets of documents to identify inconsistencies or errors.

Legal Research: Generative AI can assist lawyers in legal research by parsing large amounts of case law, statutes, and other legal materials, providing summaries or pointing out relevant passages. This can speed up the process of preparing for cases.

Predictive Analysis: AI models can be trained to predict outcomes of legal disputes based on historical data. While these predictions are by no means definitive, they can offer guidance to lawyers and clients regarding the potential outcomes of a case.

Discovery and E-Discovery: The discovery phase in litigation can be labor-intensive as it involves sifting through vast amounts of data and documents. AI can automate the process of identifying relevant documents or information by scanning and categorizing them.

IP Management: Generative AI can assist in tasks like patent searches, identifying potential infringements, or suggesting potential areas for new patent filings based on technological trends.

AI can streamline workflows, make complex preparations for cases easier than ever, and analyze data to inform decision-making processes.

Potential Pitfalls of AI in the Legal Profession

While the benefits of AI are already felt within many industries, including the legal profession, the adoption of AI tools is not without risks.

The utilization of AI in legal cases introduces concerns about data privacy, potential algorithmic biases, and the reliability of AI-generated insights. Additionally, the legal sector's inherent emphasis on human judgment and ethical considerations makes the wholesale adoption of AI a complex endeavor.

Incorrectly applied or verified information generated by AI language learning models can also present significant professional liability risks, including the risk of expensive errors & omissions or legal malpractice claims. While AI offers numerous benefits for the legal profession, its integration comes with a unique set of challenges and potential liabilities. Lawyers and firms must be proactive in understanding these risks and establishing best practices to mitigate them.