The recently launched website ChatGBT has been discussed throughout the internet and over a number of different industries including art, teaching and in particular, law. ChatGBT is an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) program that allows users to enter a question or prompt and receive a detailed product or answer in a few moments. For example, you can ask the system “write a 10-page essay on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,” and it will create the essay for you. Or you can ask, “write me a commercial lease agreement with a 5-year renewal option,” and the system will prepare it for you.
A.I. as a concern for lawyers
Some lawyers might ask if they should be concerned. Concerns of note include how these A.I. prepared documents should be treated, how this might impact vulnerable populations, how could this be a useful tool, and what are the privacy concerns? A number of lawyers in the United States have already commented on some legal documents that have been prepared by the program. With mixed results, some found that documents were consistent with the legal regime in the stated jurisdiction.
There has been less commentary from Canadian lawyers, but this is likely to come up in a matter of time since the website’s usership has been growing at a fast pace. The website will amass over one million users after its launch. The use of A.I. is something that lawyers should turn their minds to for the inevitable moment when a client or potential client asks them about a document that an A.I. has prepared.
Increased access to legal services using A.I.
Another concern is how vulnerable groups might be impacted by the rise in A.I. services. There is the argument that A.I. could increase access to justice in a world where legal fees are less accessible to the average person. The cost is lower- right now ChatGBT is free. Documents are being created using the service, but how would someone who is not legally trained know if it was sufficient? Lawyers don’t generally review documents in a vacuum and it might cost more to fix than to have a lawyer start on the initial draft.
Another important part of legal services is the personalized advice that clients receive. Early reports of A.I. legal systems appear to be helpful when given specific prompts but currently this leaves a hole when it’s not clear exactly what is needed initially. This is where a lawyer trained in the area could offer assistance.
A.I. use within firms
Another side of the A.I. proposition is if there is potential for lawyers to work faster with the help of A.I. when drafting. Services like Westlaw Edge already tout using A.I. to increase the speed of conducting research. A.I. has the potential to help free up time for the analytical thinking that brings value when applied to a client’s situation. Saving time on things like this can allow more space for developing arguments and case strategy. Microsoft Teams recently announced that ChatGBT will be featured within their premium service. This will include features like note taking and task recommendations, which have the potential to free up lawyers’ time from administrative tasks.
When considering these new technologies, lawyers also need to keep in mind their duty of loyalty and confidentiality. These tools are not licensed barristers and solicitors, so they don’t have this inherent duty. Providing these programs with confidential information to help you develop your contracts or commercial leases raises ethical concerns that have not been fully addressed.
From the point of view of someone seeking legal services, it is recommended to consider what personal information you are sharing with the system, how it will be stored or used, and what the consequences of that might be.
In summary, the legal community has other concerns not discussed here but we look forward to seeing how this new technology develops. Ultimately this is something that the legal community knew was coming to Nova Scotia. It is clear that further guidance and norms should be developed for practitioners. There is great potential for this to improve service delivery to clients if we can develop the right frameworks.
If you have a document related question or are looking for advice on a corporate matter, please reach out to our Corporate Law Team.