News Room

AI for Attorneys—Get the best out of new tools, but use caution

By Brian Kabateck

Hammers, knives, saws, axes, scissors, matches—so many tools we depend on to make basic tasks more straightforward and faster. Tools help our species survive and advance. Early adopters of innovative new inventions and technologies often gain an advantage and get ahead. When you’re hungry and need to build a fire to cook food, who wouldn’t rather be the person with the Zippo than the person rubbing two sticks together?

But any tool used without proper caution can be dangerous.

For all the hype (and legitimate concern) surrounding it, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a tool that offers tremendous benefits when properly applied. However, it can spell disaster when used carelessly or in the wrong hands.

AI is evolving at an astounding rate—outpacing, in many respects, our ability to comprehend the full extent of its power, practical application, and potential pitfalls.

As a proven legal disrupter, AI is providing tools already radically shifting a historically slow-to-adapt practice. And it’s still in its early stages.

“If you are a lawyer who is not using this stuff, your opponents are. They are going to do better work than you,” Noah Waisberg, an entrepreneur, former corporate lawyer, and co-author of the book AI for Lawyers, told the ABA Journal last month.

Some AI technologies, such as “deepfakes,” will likely create enormous challenges for attorneys, judges, and juries.

But others, particularly large language model-based technologies such as conversational AI tools like ChatGPT, can help lawyers reach a previously unheard-of level of efficiency and productivity.

Large language models (LLM) use natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning (a form of machine learning based on brain-like neural networks) to read, comprehend, process, analyze, and generate text. It can identify patterns, make predictions, and categorize information.

ChatGPT can markedly streamline many areas of the case preparation process, from contract analysis, document review, and discovery, to research and legal drafting, to strategy. Used with intelligence, skill, and wisdom, it can automate routine tasks and do time-consuming legwork such as reviewing enormous volumes of documents quickly, distilling vital information, and generating first drafts for an experienced attorney to refine. It can make case strategy suggestions based on analyzed data and identify weaknesses in your argument. It can translate documents from one language to another and aid in certain aspects of client communication. And more.

What this means for attorneys, in concrete terms, is the ability to save time—time that can then be spent on their most meaningful work.

It’s crucial to realize, however, that ChatGPT is fallible.

First and foremost, any AI tool is only as good as the data it is trained on. ChatGPT does not draw on a database of facts; it gathers and analyzes information from many resources (from books and respected journals to Wikipedia and social media posts), some of which may not be trustworthy or error-free. It can also “hallucinate,” outputting false or misleading responses that sound credible but are not in proper context or are factually incorrect. Faulty information can result from limitations in training data, inherent bias, and the fact that AI cannot think, reason, and understand in a real-world, human sense.

As we’ve witnessed in a recent notorious case involving a severe chapGPT gaffe, a lawyer who relies on AI for research and does not do due diligence in fact-checking what AI generates can find themself in hot water, facing sanctions and professional humiliation.

Using AI by attorneys also raises other ethical concerns specific to the legal field, such as data privacy, security, and attorney-client privilege. It also poses a risk that inherent bias in analyzed data can impact a current case, for example, historical racial disparities in sentencing.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay. But it can never be a substitute for the skill, wisdom, insight, drive, creativity, thoughtfulness, compassion, and conscience—all the many uniquely human elements—of an experienced attorney.

As attorneys, we need to treat this technology as the helpful, supportive, and even revolutionary tool it is. Take advantage of the edge AI tools provide—but don’t get burned.

Kabateck LLP is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s firm that litigates complex cases with an impressive record of success. Our notable victories have made a significant impact in the legal community and resulted in better consumer protections in the areas of personal injury, insurance bad faith, pharmaceutical litigation, wrongful death, class action, mass torts, and disaster litigation. KBK is a full-service contingent fee law firm that values every case equally and is committed to maximizing recovery.