How will new AI technologies shape the future of law? And how can legal professionals ensure that they adhere to legal ethics while they benefit from new technologies?
In part IV of our new series, Filevine’s legal futurists Dr. Cain Elliott and Dr. Megan Ma, along with Senior Director of Product Alex McLaughlin, help lawyers answer these questions — and prepare for the future of their practice.
Missed previous parts, visit the links below, view the full AI, Ethics, and Legal: A Deep Dive Into the Future of Legal Tech Webinar on YouTube
- Part I - An AI Primer for Legal Professionals
- Part II - Unveiling the Complexity of Bias and Intellectual Property in AI
- Part III - AI and Mitigating Risks of Legal Malpractice
The Complexities of AI Explainability
AI models, particularly large language models and generative AI, are built upon opaque neural networks, making it challenging for humans to comprehend the decision-making process. That means that demanding explicit explanations from AI models may not yield the desired outcomes.
From Explainability to Auditability
That’s why experts like Dr. Megan Ma believe the industry needs to shift the focus from explainability to auditability. Rather than seeking explanations that may not be entirely accurate or verifiable, she suggests implementing measures for transparently auditing AI systems.
This approach would involve establishing metrics and processes to trace the path of inputs and assess the reliability of the generated answers, providing more comprehensive context.
Legal Requirements and the Challenges Ahead
Alex McLaughlin raises the issue of legal demands for clear explanations from AI systems, particularly in high-impact domains such as insurance, HR, healthcare, and banking.
The question arises of whether it is feasible to mandate explainability while still effectively utilizing AI tools. Given the current opacity of AI techniques, providing detailed explanations becomes a complex task.
Weighing Gains and Harms: A Complex Decision
Whatever their position, legal professionals will increasingly be called on to navigate the complexities of AI explainability. Shifting the focus towards auditability and transparent processes can provide valuable insights while addressing the challenges posed by opaque AI systems.
By carefully weighing the potential gains against the possible harms, industries can make informed decisions about integrating AI technologies, ensuring accountability, and embracing the transformative possibilities that lie ahead.
Navigating Job Disruption
New AI tools also threaten to dramatically change the nature of labor in the industry, creating new jobs and making others irrelevant.
Shifting Perspectives on Automation
Dr. Cain Elliott highlights the prevalence of extreme viewpoints in the media, ranging from utopian visions of fully automated luxury communism to pessimistic notions of widespread unemployment. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding such polarized views and acknowledges that the true impact of AI lies somewhere in between.
Drawing on historical context, he points out that automation and acceleration of work have been ongoing for years without necessarily replacing human workers.
The Role of AI in Augmenting Work
The discussion then delves into the role of AI in augmenting human work rather than completely replacing it. Alex McLaughlin provides examples of everyday AI interactions, such as automated response suggestions in email programs.
He distinguishes these experiences from interactions with chatbots, noting that the latter can feel more personal and have a different experiential impact. Examples like that underscore the need for a nuanced understanding of AI's potential to enhance work processes rather than eliminate jobs.
Exploring Job Disruption in the Legal Field
Can AI bots replace lawyers? In Dr. Cain Elliott’s view, even as an AI practitioner, he wouldn't rely on a bot as a lawyer. His work highlights the importance of maintaining a level-headed approach, and recognizing that AI in the legal field amplifies existing tools and capabilities, rather than replacing human expertise.
AI works best as a supportive tool that can improve efficiency and enhance legal practice.
Navigating the Future of AI in Legal Work
While AI technologies will undoubtedly shape the future of work, it is crucial to recognize the potential of AI to augment human capabilities rather than render them obsolete. By embracing AI as a supportive tool, the legal profession and other industries can harness its power to enhance productivity, efficiency, and the overall quality of work.
The Reality of AI in Legal Work:
AI Will Not Replace Licensed Professionals
AI models like ChatGPT are trained on publicly accessible data and are not intended to replace licensed professionals. These models lack the expertise, nuanced understanding, and comprehensive knowledge that legal professionals possess.
Drawing a parallel, Alex mentioned that just as one wouldn't want an amateur attempting surgery based on internet research, relying solely on AI for legal work can lead to unfavorable outcomes.
AI as a Tool, Not a Decision-Maker
Dr. Cain Elliott further expanded on the limitations of AI, emphasizing that AI technology is not a decision-making tool. While AI can assist with assembling legal documents and provide insights, it does not replace the expertise, judgment, and decision-making abilities of legal professionals.
The complexity of the legal world, including individual judges' preferences, specific arguments, and contextual factors, cannot be adequately captured by AI models. Dr. Cain Elliott underscored the importance of legal professionals' involvement in decision-making processes to optimize outcomes for clients.
AI Will Not Replace You, WebMD Did Not Replace Doctors.
The panelists used analogies to illustrate the limitations of AI. Dr. Megan Ma drew a parallel with WebMD, a popular online medical resource. While WebMD can offer potential diagnoses, it does not replace the expertise of doctors, who are essential for offering second opinions and verifying findings.
Similarly, AI in law should be approached as a tool for initial assessment and expertise, but not as a complete replacement for legal professionals. Alex added another analogy, comparing AI to a tread-depth analysis for tires. While AI can provide data on tire wear, it cannot account for the specific driving conditions, location, and individual risk preferences that influence the decision to replace tires.
Using AI at Your Discretion
Dr. Megan Ma concluded the discussion by reiterating that using AI tools like ChatGPT for initial assessments and insights should be done with caution and at one's own discretion.
AI should not be seen as a substitute for legal professionals, but rather as a supplementary tool that can provide assistance and generate ideas. Legal expertise, judgment, and individualized counsel remain indispensable in the legal field.
The webinar shed light on the limitations of AI in the legal profession, urging legal professionals and clients to understand that AI is not a magic solution that can replace licensed professionals. While AI tools like ChatGPT can provide valuable insights and assist with initial assessments, the complex nature of law and the need for human judgment and decision-making cannot be fully replaced by AI models. Legal professionals play a vital role in offering comprehensive legal services and optimizing outcomes for their clients.
By approaching AI as a tool to support their expertise, legal professionals can leverage its benefits while maintaining their central role in the legal process.