Chat GPT 101 for Lawyers: The Upsides — and Downsides
There’s a new technology making waves that should be on your radar if it isn’t already: ChatGPT. The reason you should familiarize yourself with it is because all signs indicate that this cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology and other tools like it will have a significant impact on the practice of law.
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence language model that generates human-like responses to natural language queries. The reason ChatGPT has made such a splash is because it can understand and respond to a wide range of questions, and then provide near-instantaneous responses, which include generating documents. For example, I asked it to draft a demand letter, an NDA, and an employment agreement, and the documents it created were very workable rough drafts.
It’s available as a standalone chatbot, and there’s a free version available. After test-driving it, you may want to sign up for ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20/month and offers consistent uptime and prioritized access to new features. And, as I discuss below, ChatGPT is already being incorporated into legal technology products, so you’re likely to encounter it one way or another sometime soon.
The reason everyone is talking about ChatGPT is because it holds incredible potential. Its output is fast and often impressive, and when ChatGPT works well, it’s mind-boggling.
However, its drawbacks are significant. It often makes up facts and then serves them up in a way that sounds completely believable. In one case, I asked it to draft a LinkedIn post about an article in which I was quoted, and it created a quote out of thin air. In another, the response provided seemed on point at first glance but referenced a non-existent California legal ethics provision.
So while the current version undoubtedly provides value to lawyers, it’s important to have working knowledge of the issues being queried along with the ability to weed out false information. That being said, in the very near future the accuracy of its output will undoubtedly increase exponentially as new versions are released.
Notably, it’s already making its mark in the legal industry. A number of legal technology companies have begun to incorporate ChatGPT into their platforms, including Ironclad (“AI Assist” generates redlined versions of contracts and more), DocketAlarm (its ChatGPT integration provides three-bullet-point summary of docket documents), and Lexion (offers a ChatGPT Word plugin that assists with contract drafting).
The bottom line: ChatGPT isn’t yet ready for prime time, but it’s a great way to begin your work. ChatGPT and tools like it are the future, although they are admittedly a work in progress. Even so, as part of your duty of technology competence, you should learn about them so that you can make an educated decision as to whether and how to use them in your law practice. Because like it or not, the majority of lawyers will be using ChatGPT on a daily basis, sooner rather than later.
But don’t my word on it; let’s see what ChatGPT has to say about its impact on the legal profession. When I asked ChatGPT how it will impact the practice of law, this is what it had to say: “ChatGPT will impact law practices in the very near future by offering AI-powered legal research assistance, document drafting, and contract analysis tools that can save lawyers significant amounts of time and effort. ChatGPT can also help lawyers improve their legal writing skills by providing suggestions for clearer and more concise language. As AI technology continues to improve, ChatGPT will become an increasingly valuable tool for lawyers looking to streamline their workflows and improve the quality of their work.”
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the head of SME and External Education at MyCase law practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at [email protected].