The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal industry is becoming increasingly popular. In 2022, the UK government's AI activity in UK businesses research has found that 15% of all businesses have adopted a form of AI technology. Amongst all sectors, legal demonstrates one of the highest adoption rates at 29.2%. The latest development from OpenAI has led many to ponder on the future implication of ChatGPT in contract drafting and as a provider of legal advice.
The conversation chatbot is trained on a large amount of data and is designed to understand and generate human-like text. OpenAI’s new chatGPT became available on 30th November 2022 and can come up with anything the user inputs. From jokes, poems, essays, writing code and yes you guessed it - legal advice and contract drafting!
Efficiency gains and improving access to justice
The ability of the chatbot to filter through a significant amount of information and come back with a result in a matter of seconds is astounding. This can prove to be significantly beneficial in combating inequality and lack of access to justice by providing legal advice on demand. Linklaters conducted a study to test the quality of legal advice provided by the bot and while the chatbot “provided surprisingly good answers” inconsistencies remain, with some responses being labelled as “dangerously wrong”. With that being said, it is important to remember that AI is not a legal expert nor does it pose in-depth knowledge of legal principles. ChatGPT lacks the judgement to interpret legal precedents and principles like a human lawyer would so it's not always an appropriate tool for instances requiring considerable legal research and analysis. As it does not have a fully contextualised understanding of the matter at hand and so relying on it can prove erroneous.
Discrimination and bias
Using the chatbot can tread on the possibility of bias or discriminatory output. In its article “The Internet’s New Favorite AI Proposes Torturing Iranians and Surveilling Mosques” The Intercept reported that “when asked to write a program that would determine “whether a person should be tortured,” OpenAI’s answer is simple: If they’re from North Korea, Syria, or Iran, the answer is yes”. The machine is prone to discrimination and bias and if the data it is trained on consists of imbalances, this will be reflected in its results. This is some indication of how relying on the machine can prove to be inaccurate and dangerous.
Andrew Perlman, the Dean and Professor of Law and Suffolk University Law School wrote an extensive paper on “The Implications of OpenAI’s Assistant for Legal Services and Society”. In his paper, Perlman outlined the key areas where chatGPT can prove to be useful such as conducting factual research and generating general legal information or documentation. Perlman also stated that “the challenges and ethical considerations of using chatGPT in the legal field are significant, and must be carefully considered before this technology is adopted in the legal profession”
Efficiency gains in contract drafting
Legal contracts often have many standardised clauses that are identical across different agreements. For example, employment contracts may contain similar clauses on termination, confidentiality, and intellectual property rights. This standardisation presents an opportunity to use AI to generate language for these standardised clauses. By using AI, legal teams can save time and reduce the risk of errors that may occur when drafting such agreements manually. This can free up lawyers to focus on more complex legal issues and provide a cost-effective solution for businesses to manage their legal contracts. Lexion, a US contract management platform, is using GPT-3 based AI Contract Assist to generate clause language and produce suggested redlines, which can save time for legal teams when reviewing and editing contracts. It states that although AI is not 100% perfect, its application in the business world can bring significant advantages, “The right approach with this technology is to tie together the expert and the AI, not to leave the expert out of the loop”.
While the platform can generate human-like text and provide legal advice and contract drafting, there are concerns about bias, ethics, and accuracy when applying AI in the legal sphere. Despite the efficiency gains, improving access to justice and contract drafting, relying solely on the machine can prove erroneous and potentially dangerous due to its prone nature to discrimination and bias as well as limited and decontextualized knowledge. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI described ChatGPT as “incredibly limited” and that “it's a mistake to be relying on it for anything important for now”. The creation of ChatGPT is a fascinating glimpse into the future tools lawyers and other professionals can utilise to improve productivity however it is important to carefully consider the challenges and ethical considerations before adopting this technology in the legal profession. The right approach with this technology is to tie together the expert and the AI, not leave the expert out of the loop.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.