AI Versus The Legal Workforce

Doug Twining 10 July 2023

AI Versus The Legal Workforce

Artificial intelligence, like any other invention, requires those who use and shape it to be a force for good, and this applies to its use by the legal profession, according to the author of this article.

Doug Twining, chief information officer at Mourant, the law and professional services firm, examines how AI can be used in legal practice, whether it should be and the risks lawyers face by using it. As lawyers are important players in the wealth management ecosystem, we hope readers from all parts of the industry and the world find these insights useful. The usual editorial disclaimers apply to the views of guest writers. Email

Doug Twining

In a mere two months after its launch, ChatGPT reached 100 million users – a milestone that took TikTok nine months to achieve and Instagram two and half years.  This has propelled AI into the mainstream, making it a topic that's regularly provoking heated debate both socially and in the workplace. 

I'm an evangelist for technology, but always for the good of people and of the planet. Aside from the inevitable use of AI in chatbots, there are already some excellent uses of AI at work, from helping to create first drafts of business cases, blogs or management reports through to expert error-free and unbiased analysis of huge volumes of data.

But technologies such as ChatGPT must still be used with caution and never solely relied upon, especially in the legal profession. There have been a number of cases recently where lawyers have taken ChatGPT answers at face value – only to find in court that the cited cases were simply made up by the AI; this was not just damaging for the client but embarrassing and career limiting for the lawyer.

Global law firm Allen & Overy and multinational professional services network PwC both recently announced their use of an AI startup called Harvey, a chatbot built on ChatGPT 4.0 technology designed specifically for lawyers’ use in due diligence, regulatory compliance, and drafting contracts and client memos. Other legal service vendors, including LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters and some contract management platforms, have also introduced or announced the development of generative AI-based tools to aid lawyers’ practices. It is in these very specific use-cases where I believe AI will provide the most benefit in the short term, but the golden rule still stands: no technology should be relied upon blindly.

What are the risks?
The risks are starting to be understood. Increasingly, professional indemnity insurers are inserting specific clauses concerning the use of AI, explicitly stating that current generative AI tools should not be used for legal practice due to serious shortcomings in the reliability and accuracy of responses that the tools generate.

Generative AI also poses significant risks of disclosure of confidential and proprietary information; entering any confidential information into a generative AI platform immediately places that information outside of the firm’s secure systems and onto third-party servers where the firm can no longer ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the information from disclosure.  

Additionally, these tools use data submitted by users to further train and improve systems, which means that client-related data and personally identifiable information that is protected by data privacy laws may appear in responses to subsequent users' prompts.

A number of governments are clearly concerned; in April, Italy became the first western country to ban the use of ChatGPT, although this was subsequently lifted after OpenAI implemented changes to comply with several data privacy conditions. As is often the case with technology, regulators are on the back foot.

Perversely, some of the quickest adopters of AI have been fraudsters, particularly the well-organised groups running email scams, who are using AI to make their emails look even more convincing with better language and more targeted content. And only last week, Amazon removed a host of books from its online store which had been mass-produced by generative AI, with titles such as “Apricot bar code architecture.”

But it's not all gloom and doom; one innovator has launched a ChatGPT-powered service that fights back against annoying telemarketing or scam phone calls, by happily keeping them chatting on the phone until they give up.

Key takeaway
History is littered with examples of inventions that have brought huge benefits and those that have caused long-lasting harm. With AI, like any invention, it is up to us all to shape and control its use as a force for good.

For the legal profession, those firms that apply the technology for key use-cases, either to drive significant efficiency gains or to provide value-added services, will find themselves with considerable competitive advantage.

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