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AI in the Court_ Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on the Legal Industry.pdf (68.43 kB)

AI in the Court: Artificial Intelligence's Impact on the Legal Industry

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posted on 2024-05-17, 14:46 authored by Eben Beh

The rapid developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have perhaps been the biggest story of the past year. The amount that AI has created a disruption in visual art is staggering. However, that is not the only industry these advancements have disrupted. The legal profession has had to grapple with the implications that AI has created. These implications are so substantial that AI was the primary topic of Chief Justice Roberts report on the federal judiciary. He went so far as to compare its development to other technological frontiers like electricity and the computer [1]. 

These possibilities are not theoretical either. Roberts noted that AI has received Bs on law school assignments and is capable of passing the bar [2]. While Roberts is confident that no one in the legal system will become outdated by the proliferation of AI, he predicts that it will create significant changes to the way that the system operates behind the scenes with regards to information technology [3].

Judges and the courts are not the only side of the legal industry that have been impacted by AI’s widespread adoption. Some lawyers have already blundered in their use of AI as a research tool. Michael Cohen, former lawyer for President Trump, presented several cases to his lawyers for use in a motion. The only problem is that those cases did not exist and had been erroneously generated by Google’s AI program Bard. Cohen claimed he had not realized that AI programs might be inaccurate and blamed his counsel for not double-checking him [4]. This is a common pothole in AI’s functionality that many people have and will likely continue to run into. 

While AI is not a viable research option, there do appear to be ways AI can impact the legal profession. Especially AI, which is trained with legal information for a specific focus. David Wilkins, director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, in an interview with Harvard Law Today described the way that AI could assist law firms. He recalls conversations with other lawyers who compare the ability of sophisticated AI to write memos on par with first-year associates [5]. Even though AI needs to be double-checked, so does a junior lawyer, and the former can function much quicker at a fraction of the price of the latter.

AI could also impact the legal industry by providing accessible services to people that would otherwise have to be performed by a lawyer. People could use AI to fill out legal documents or detail the legal processes that people will have to go through [6]. While it seems like the proliferation of AI would create accessible legal services for all, Wilkins is not so sure. He worries that those with the most resources will be the ones in position to take advantage of AI’s capabilities, furthering the gap between them and those with fewer resources. [7] It remains to be determined who has the ingenuity or resources to maximize AI’s potential to disrupt the legal industry and whether those developments will be for better or worse.

[1] John Roberts, 2023 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary (2023).

[2] Id at 5.

[3] Id at 6.

[4] Benjamin Weiser and Jonah Bromwich, Michael Cohen Used Artificial Intelligence in Feeding Lawyer Bogus Cases (December 29, 2023), 

[5] Jeff Neal, The legal profession in 2024: AI (February 14, 2024), 

[6] Id. 

[7] Id.



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