6 January 2023

ChatGPT As A Replacement For Human Lawyers?

Foley & Lardner


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As experimentation with the ChatGPT bot continues, articles have started to abound suggesting that an AI replacement for lawyers is much closer than many might think.
United States Technology
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As experimentation with the ChatGPT bot continues, articles have started to abound suggesting that an AI replacement for lawyers is much closer than many might think. Based on what I've been hearing from those who work and research in the artificial intelligence space, the near-term impact of AI is being both overestimated and underestimated. Overestimated by those who see sea changes in their breakfast cereal and think all will be different tomorrow, but underestimated by those who fail to appreciate how quickly the pace of exponential change can be.

For legal services and AI, I see the likely path as a middle road. Human lawyers do far too many varied tasks for their clients, in various contexts, requiring different types of judgment and experience, to be fully replaced by an AI product without generations of improvement from what is available today. AI won't "replace" lawyers tomorrow, or next month, or next decade.

But as I've commented before, will lawyers be using AI technology to "enhance their work," as this article suggests, or to generate templates, perform research, or otherwise become more efficient? I'd submit that the best lawyers and law firms will certainly do so. Perhaps they already are!

The bot offers its own critique, telling me straight up, "It is not ethical for me to provide legal advice as I am not a qualified legal professional."


"Because ChatGPT is a machine learning system, it may not have the same level of understanding and judgment as a human lawyer when it comes to interpreting legal principles and precedent," the bot writes. "This could lead to problems in situations where a more in-depth legal analysis is required."

ChatGPT is also aware that it could one day "be used to replace human lawyers and legal professionals, potentially leading to job losses and economic disruption."

Perlman agrees that's a concern. But he doesn't see it as an either/or situation. Lawyers could use the technology to enhance their work, he said, and produce "something better than machine or human could do alone."

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