The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked discussions about the potential impact of the technology on various industries. The legal field is on the line of the potentially disrupted spaces. OpenAI’s large language model ChatGPT has demonstrated impressive capabilities in natural language processing and generation.
However, can ChatGPT truly replace lawyers?
According to Vasile Tiple, CEO and founder of Romanian legal infrastructure platform Goodlegal, there are several scenarios where ChatGPT can prove useful for lawyers.
“You can play with it to generate various email texts to avoid composing stuff from scratch (done that, works great and no need for specific expertise). Or it can be used for advice on matters such as legal, healthcare, etc. by the non-experts in these respective fields where the result is not bullet proof. However this could put that person at risk if he would follow whatever the tools generate without double checking with a specialist or at least some separate extensive research,” Tiple tells The Recursive.
Then, there is also the use by experts in their respective fields such as lawyers who can understand if the generated output is correct, complete or real, and in this case the tool can greatly accelerate with research, drafting and repetitive tasks, he adds.
For Croatian lawyer Vlaho Hrdalo, ChatGPT and similar AI models can certainly replace some aspects of the job that lawyers do.
“I am certain AI solutions will replace some aspects of the jobs lawyers do today. And to this I am looking forward. We’ve tried utilizing ChatGPT in our law firm in order to make our jobs easier but it still isn’t that useful for the particular law that we practice. We are still navigating clients through an unregulated area that is crypto so it takes more than just reading, understanding and offering answers – it is either that or we are not very good in prompt providing,” Hrdalo tells The Recursive.
Ethical, professional consideration, client trust and more
While the model can understand legal questions and prove useful for individuals seeking preliminary information or guidance on legal matters, a complex case however would often require a deep understanding of nuanced legal issues, context-specific considerations, and tailored advice based on the unique circumstances of each client.
Additionally, the legal profession is not solely concerned with the application of law but also encompasses ethical responsibilities, confidentiality, and professional judgment. Lawyers are bound by strict codes of conduct, ensuring client confidentiality and loyalty.
While ChatGPT is designed to respect user privacy, the lack of accountability and adherence to ethical standards present potential challenges. Furthermore, maintaining client trust and upholding professional integrity are crucial aspects of legal practice that cannot be replaced by an AI model.
For Skopje-based legal professional associate Eftim Tolovski, while AI could potentially replace human lawyers at some point in the future, at the moment the whole legal profession is way too complex in order for this to happen.
“My opinion is that yes, it can actually happen, but it entails a series of other things that will radically change the current working principle of the legal profession and system. And if that were to happen, not only lawyers would be affected, but there would also be judges, court officials, and so on, and the whole system would have to be reorganized, which would not be an easy task at all,” Tolovski tells The Recursive.
Goodlegal’s Triple agrees, adding that right now these models can mostly be seen as productivity enhancement tools.
“In all scenarios depending on the evolution of the tech, things can change. But a full and total replacement of lawyers or other specialists where critical thinking and analysis is needed, won’t happen. The tools should be seen as an additional tool (similar to Google to some extent) to be used to increase productivity and efficiency to save what matters most – time,” Triple from the Goodlegal platform says.
When it comes to litigation and courtroom proceedings, the role of lawyers extends beyond legal knowledge, as they engage in negotiations, present arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and persuade judges and juries. Such tasks require advanced interpersonal skills, strategic thinking, and an ability to adapt to dynamic situations.
Despite the progress in AI technology, there are limitations to what ChatGPT can achieve, lawyers and experts agree. So rather than viewing ChatGPT as a potential replacement for lawyers, it can prove to be much more successful as a tool that can augment legal professionals.
“Be that as it may, I don’t think AI will replace lawyers altogether but even if it does, radio telegraphists used to be the most important person on any ship and now this profession is reduced to hobby. Omnia mutantur. We can’t be luddites and try to stop technology to protect our positions. But, we do need to be careful with powerful technologies like AI to protect the world we’re leaving to our children. Honestly, I am not worried about lawyers, we’ve been able to escape extinction for some time now,” Croatian lawyer Hrdalo concludes.