Generative AI for Lawyers: Part 1

Chat GPT-3 (and other numbers moving forward…maybe letters…who knows?), chatbots, content generators, automation tools…there’s so much to choose from when it comes to your personal and professional life. And now, we’re throwing generative AI into the mix.

Is generative AI a fad? Will it just disappear once something newer comes out? Is it something that can really help you in your law practice? In part 1 of Generative AI for Lawyers, you’ll learn more about:

  • What generative AI is and isn’t
  • Why you don’t have to worry about “robo-lawyers” taking your profession away from you
  • How generative AI tools can help you strengthen your practice

Let’s start with the defining question.

What Is Generative AI?  

Generative AI is short for generative artificial intelligence. The term is used to describe a set of algorithms that a user relies upon to create some type of new content. Examples of new content include:

  • Text (including chatbots, blogs, entire books, and even assisting with research)
  • Images (and this is not a discussion about copyrights, legalities, or ethics)
  • Code (creating, verifying, and even providing feedback)
  • Video
  • Simulations

Generative AI can work both supervised and in an unsupervised manner. It processes large amounts of information to create what should be original output. I use “should be” because I recognize that there is a lot arguments surrounding the creation of both AI art and written content. But if we’re being fair, anything that’s new definitely has its fair share of bugs to be worked out. (I am certainly not implying that if Lensa or any other generative AI tool purposefully stole art or plagiarized a knowledge worker’s existing content that it is okay. It’s not.)

Also, if you’re wondering if I’m afraid of generative AI tools as a professional writer and paralegal, the answer is no. I started using it more than a year ago. Better to embrace the inevitable and help my clients and friends adapt than to be left behind and scrambling.

What Generative AI Isn’t

Generative AI isn’t necessarily about removing the other humans from your life…especially if you’re not particularly comfortable using it. In my experience with generative AI (and its predecessors) over the last year, another colleague and I noticed some poorly written content that many businesses slapped onto their websites after they removed the human element from the equation. We weren’t sure if they hired someone to produce their content who used an AI tool to generate the content and they didn’t review it, or if the website owner generated it and didn’t review it before putting it up for all the world to see.Either way, the result wasn’t pretty. Or logical.

So, these tools aren’t about ditching your knowledge workers (or replacing you as a knowledge worker for that matter). These tools are about increasing productivity, knowledge, improving creativity, and refining ideas. All generative AI tools require input. They require training.

Related: Legal Technology: The Advantages of Artificial Intelligence That May Improve the Attorney-Client Relationship

Here’s an example. I’m not a lawyer. I’m a paralegal and someone who happens to be very skilled with the English language. Recently, I logged into my chat-gpt3 account to learn about a particular genre of fiction that I know very little about. Within 10 minutes, I knew more about that genre than I thought I would. Do I know enough to write a novel? I can’t say that I do, but I certainly know enough to at least get started. It gave me enough information to at least start my research.

However, chat gpt-3 couldn’t tell me anything without first getting something from me: a question. Then, I received a response. That fueled my creativity and improved my knowledge. From there, I could refine my idea.

From a work standpoint, I use an AI-based SEO tool. Not only can I determine which keywords a website or blog post ranks for, the software shows me other ranking sites that are similar. It also shows me keywords that are like what I am considering and that both sites are missing. I also have an AI writing tool. I can use it for many things (about 31 different things with or without SEO keywords), including blog post outlines, blog posts themselves, book outlines (haven’t actually tried that), and SMS notifications. However, none of it works without me providing…input of some kind. The more input I can provide, my AI writing tool prefers up to 200 characters for certain types of writing, the better quality “answer” I will receive from it.

So, again, generative AI is not meant to be a replacement for people.

However, if you are a solo attorney or if you enjoy learning new technology, it’s definitely a great way to keep your costs down and accomplish more on your own. Just remember that all of your results, no matter what you use it for, should be reviewed by a human. Just like your paralegal, receptionist, legal assistant, and anyone else you hire who is a non-attorney must be supervised by you appropriately, so must your generative AI results.

No, You Won’t Be Replaced by a Robo-Lawyer

There’s a lot of concern over the fact that chat gpt managed to pass the bar and US medical licensing exam. In fact, The Atlantic is still clutching its pearls. (Won’t someone please think of the children?) Chat gpt isn’t destabilizing white-collar knowledge work. When WestLaw and Lexis went online, they destabilized nothing. This won’t destabilize law, either.

You won’t be replaced by a robo-lawyer. If the last section was TL;DR for you. Here’s the short version of why. Chat gpt passed those tests for two reasons:

  1. Someone first had to provide it with all the information required to answer those questions.
  2. Someone had to input the questions.

Oh, and I do not know the “grade” that chat gpt received, but remember that even if you get one point above a failing grade, you still pass. We all know that the bar actually proves nothing as far as whether you’ll actually be a competent lawyer.

So, even if we took a generative AI app and fed it all the statutes in your jurisdiction, it still can’t argue. All it can do is answer the query it is given.

How Generative AI Tools Can Help Your Practice

Now, with that said, while it won’t replace lawyers, it can be very helpful in several ways.

  • It could make research faster and more cost effective
  • It could lead to making it easier for access to justice initiatives to provide services
  • It could make it easier and more cost-effective for you to grow your law practice
  • It could make it easier to provide real-time updates to clients

Related: 3 Law Firm Automation Tips to Save You Hours of Time

Generative AI is different compared to many AI tools because it is highly customizable. It depends on what you need it to do for you and the data that it is provided. It follows its algorithm and continues to learn.

Stay tuned for part 2. You’ll learn more about generative AI and how it can be used to expand your practice. In the meantime, sign up for early access to our Co-Pilot program!

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