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AI: Reducing lawyers’ workloads and costs with artificial intelligence technology

Automation, not advice, the current path forward for artificial intelligence in the legal sector
Some firms are using technology to reduce lawyer workloads, such as by applying AI to the production of final reports to clients

Large language models like ChatGPT are based on a huge corpus of text – meaning they have access to enough information to pass the standardized law school admission test (LSAT) with high scores.

But ask ChatGPT for legal advice and it will tell you to call a lawyer, adding that it is not authorized to give legal advice – not yet, at least.

Russell Alexander, a Canadian lawyer who runs a family law firm in Ontario, is writing a book about AI and the law. 

He thinks it’s only a matter of time before non-professionals start using AI programs to offer legal advice without proper legal training or certification.

“I think this will be just around the corner… The unauthorized practice of law,” Alexander told BIV. “There’ll be people, probably, using AI to give legal advice when they’re not licensed to do that. Or they might be licensed but they’re not licensed to practise in British Columbia or Ontario. So that’s going to be a tough regulatory issue for our governing bodies to deal with.”

That is just one of the issues Canada’s new Artificial Intelligence and Data Act may have to address – the use of AI to provide services or advice by non-professionals.

There may be other ethical and legal challenges that arise from the use of AI in the law as well, but generally speaking, Alexander said he believes AI will be a positive new tool that reduces lawyers’ workload and costs.

“Lawyers are not going to be replaced by AI – lawyers who use AI will replace other lawyers,” Alexander said. “You need to get on board.”

In January, Alexander started a 30-day daily blog series on artificial intelligence and the law, based on his experiences using OpenAI’s ChatGPT-3. As a result, Alexander decided he needed to write a book, which he expects to be out in a few weeks. 

His firm has also contracted a software company in Seattle to tailor-make some software so that his firm can use AI as part of its routine practice.

Alexander has identified 30 ways that AI can help law firms and lawyers. 

“The implications are huge,” he said. “Predictive analysis, contract analysis, legal research, legal drafting, document management, case management, legal chatbots, virtual assistants.”

One way Alexander’s firm is using AI to reduce lawyer workloads is by applying it to the production of final reports to clients.

“One of the things lawyers don’t like to do is the final report to the client because it takes some time to get a court order,” Alexander said. 

“Usually, they’ll bill for it. What we can do now is take the court order, drop it into AI and AI will produce the final report based on that court order. The lawyer’s still going to edit it and review it, but it’s going to be a lot more time efficient.

“So those are real life examples of how we can use AI right now. Our firm has started doing this.”

AI can take on some of the grunt work that heretofore has required a human with the ability to read, analyze and write. While it can reduce workloads, lawyers will still be needed to oversee the work, because AI is not without its flaws and foibles.

“There’s some biases that are built into AI,” Alexander noted. “There’s examples of this amazing AI where the program makes stuff up that’s completely false. So, lawyers still need to have their hand on the rudder.”

But overall, he sees it as a new tool that will improve efficiencies in law firms everywhere.

“It’s a great opportunity to make us much more efficient.”

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