Artificial Intelligence Presents Opportunities and Challenges for the Legal Ecosystem
Artificial intelligence has already proven that it will alter many industries, including the legal profession. In fact, a wide range of legal tasks are already being automated, and naturally, a mountain of ethical issues will require thoughtful debate and examination.
In March of 2023, Bill Gates declared AI the “most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface.” While there is no denying that artificial intelligence is a revolutionary development, not everyone is as enthusiastic about its application as Mr. Gates. There are social concerns that must be addressed, not to mention the wide ramifications of AI in the law community, including patent and copyright law, privacy and others not yet contemplated. The advantages and disadvantages of this quickly developing technology will be discussed in this article, plus an evaluation of the legal ’profession’s position on its integration into the practice of law.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 is now intelligent enough to successfully pass the bar exam, with a top 10% score – better than most law school graduates. Although interesting at face value, what lies below is both startling and compelling. GPT-4 is considered five times more powerful than its predecessors and just a few months ago was unable to pass the bar exam.
OpenAI is the creator of several artificial intelligence systems that are transforming our civilization, including GPT-4, ChatGPT, DALL-E and Codex. ChatGPT boasts the most successful product launch in history, reaching 100 million users in just two months. The speed of AI’s user adoption is eye-popping. For perspective, what took ChatGPT two months to achieve took Facebook and Instagram four-and-a-half years and two years, respectively.
It is predicted that by 2030, AI will generate $13 trillion for the global economy while boosting the global GDP by 14 percent. Interestingly, Gartner predicts that although AI will eliminate certain types of jobs (i.e., legal assistants), new jobs will be created because of AI, thus resulting in a net increase in employment.
Benefits to the Profession of Law
The legal field will benefit from AI in many ways, such as automating work that is done repeatedly, predicting how a case will turn out and providing lawyers with data about legal trends and patterns. AI-powered software will create efficiencies when reviewing documents, locating pertinent cases, statutes and regulations, conducting legal research and even contract analysis. Naturally, AI has the potential to positively impact a law firm’s bottom line. Moreover, clients will benefit from more precise and effective legal services, quicker access to legal information and lower legal service fees.
OpenAI recently invested in Harvey AI, a system that facilitates legal work and is based on a GPT variant created by OpenAI. Harvey AI was most recently trained with general legal information, including case law and reference documents, after initially learning from general internet data. To start, Harvey AI will assist lawyers with contract analysis, due diligence, litigation and regulatory compliance. Harvey AI can also aid in producing insights, suggestions and forecasts based on data.
Allen & Overy and Harvey AI revealed their collaboration in February 2023. Since then, Harvey AI has been questioned more than 40,000 times by the 3,500-lawyer company with 43 offices. Interestingly, 25% of the attorneys in the firm have embraced the new technology and participate in an “alignment” system by checking and validating everything that comes out of the Harvey AI system. Achieving behavioral alignment between an AI system’s human operators or authors is known as “alignment” in the context of artificial intelligence. In general, the objective is to stop AI from acting in ways that are detrimental to human interests.
A Positive Impact on the Justice Gap
Artificial intelligence will provide individuals from low-economic communities with more access to legal counsel. The gulf between legal requirements and access to legal services is known as the justice gap.
Most at-risk groups in New York are principally affected by this disparity, with minorities and those from low-income areas being disproportionately affected. In fact, most people still believe hiring a lawyer is expensive. Eighty percent of those with low incomes are unable to pay for legal counsel, and even the middle class faces difficulties. For example, 40–60% of the middle class’s legal requirements go unfulfilled.
Consider AI’s value in the health care sector. New York State’s Permanent Commission on Access to Justice’s mission is to expand access to civil legal services. The commission’s November 2022 report found that 99% of patients remain without legal representation and highlighted a staggering 98% success rate for civil medical debt cases won on default. The report determined that hospitals are suing patients, mainly minority patients from low-income zip codes.
DoNotPay is widely considered “the World’s First Robot Lawyer” and according to its CEO, Joshua Browder, the company has successfully resolved more than 2 million cases by utilizing AI technology. Moreover, DoNotPay currently maintains hundreds of thousands of active subscribers and predicts legal conflict resolution of medical bills will play a central role in the businesses’ core focus. Indeed, a harbinger for the legal industry.
Are we releasing new large language models of AI into the public responsibly? Many argue that we are not. In fact, a new report affirms that 50% of AI researchers believe there is a 10% or greater chance that humans will go extinct from our inability to control AI. Consider this: would you give a prescribed medication to your child without the endorsement from the entire medical community?
The legal community has time to contemplate the most effective ways to use the new technology for business purposes and to establish meaningful ethical standards since we are currently in the early stages of AI’s development. However, large language models like GPT-4 can teach themselves by utilizing massive data inputs through the lens of text and even synthesize the relationships between the data inputs. To align AI’s outputs with factual information and, further, to prioritize outputs, OpenAI has devised a system rooted in a massive amount of human feedback – essentially a rating system dubbed “RLHF,” Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback. But naturally this process can be very subjective, entirely based on the opinion of the human providing the output’s rating.
Typically, our laws evolve with invention, and AI requires thoughtful policy development, legal application and regulation. Consider Justice Brandeis’ role in evolving the right to privacy as new technologies like wiretapping and photography were invented.
One of the biggest shifts on the horizon applies to authentication verification. Today, deep fakes (audio and video content impersonating an individual) require only three seconds of voice audio to fully create new content in that individual’s likeness. Institutions that currently use audio and/or video content-based verification, like the banking sector, are at risk.
Many people are concerned about how quickly AI will permeate our everyday lives and the difficulties it will present, such as its propensity for bias. Naturally, biased data inputs lead to biased data outputs and, in turn, can result in the denial of legal help to certain racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic groups. Additionally, there are concerns surrounding data protection and privacy rights. Finally, attorneys, legal assistants and other staffers within the legal profession’s ecosystem are concerned about being rendered nullified.
Since AI is still in its infancy, we have time to think about how people will use these tools before the legal community has a chance to decide precisely what to do.
Marc Beckman is the best-selling author of Comprehensive Guide: NFTs, Digital Artwork, and Blockchain Technology. He is a senior metaverse fellow and adjunct professor at New York University and a consultant to the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency. Beckman earned his J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law (now the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University). As CEO of DMA United, Beckman has launched several Web3 programs for brands worldwide.
 Bill Gates, The Age of AI Has Begun, Gates Notes, March 21, 2023, https://www.gatesnotes.com/The-Age-of-AI-Has-Begun.
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 Helaine M. Barnett, Permanent Commission on Access to Justice Report to the Chief Judge of the State of New York (2022), https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/accesstojusticecommission/22_ATJ-Comission_Report.pdf.
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 Leah Burrows, To Be Let Alone: Brandeis Foresaw Privacy Problems, Brandeis Now, July 24, 2013, https://www.brandeis.edu/now/2013/july/privacy.html.