Artificial intelligence models have been all over the news recently because of the widespread disruption they are expected to provide to a number of job fields. The potential increases in efficiency have been well documented and will surely help to reduce the amount of man-hours needed to complete more remedial tasks. However, the potential disruption which has been discussed for more complex tasks is still up for debate. Many people are asking, “will AI replace lawyers?”. The answer is a resounding no. While artificial intelligence can play an important role in allowing a law firm to become more efficient, it is certainly not at the level of being able to replace a lawyer entirely.
Legal research has seen the benefits of machine-learning tools for decades. Westlaw and LexisNexis, the two major case law databases that lawyers use for legal research help cut back on time and efficiency in research. AI could help level the playing field in cases where mountains of paperwork would have taken a team of associates hours to classify and read. Now this can be done in minutes or even seconds, by AI, to competently summarize documents and even answer specific research questions.
When accompanied by the guiding hand of a competent lawyer who is able to scrutinize the outputs which are received, AI can be a big benefit. Currently, solely relying on artificial intelligence to operate as a lawyer would be a massive mistake.
However, the current level of artificial intelligence is not without its limitations. ChatGPT, which does not yet have this technology, can get things wrong. When asking ChatGPT for a case with a particular holding to support a specific claim, ChatGPT has offered a case with a Westlaw citation that did not exist. Artificial intelligence is not a magical tool, it utilizes information inputs to summarize and provide information. Tools like ChatGPT assume the accuracy of the informational inputs it receives; as described in the above example this can lead to wildly inaccurate results which are delivered in a confident sounding manner. When accompanied by the guiding hand of a competent lawyer who is able to scrutinize the outputs which are received, AI can be a big benefit. Currently, solely relying on artificial intelligence to operate as a lawyer would be a massive mistake.
Lay persons, and even attorneys, will have to be very careful about how much faith they put into AI information and the legitimacy, or even existence, of its source. In many cases, artificial intelligence models can sound confident in answers which are widely inaccurate, as they assume the accuracy of all the information which they receive. Although we may get to the time where AI does most drafting of documents, even in complex legal cases, this is still arguably decades away. A criminal defense lawyer will still be needed to find the research queries and identify other claims or problems for clients in their cases. So while AI is the future, a law degree will never be obsolete.