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The Risks of Relying on Artificial Intelligence for Legal Research: Lessons

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

The Risks of Replying on Artificial Intelligence for Legal Research: Lessons

In an age where technology continues to advance, it is becoming evermore tempting for legal professionals to turn to artificial intelligence for assistance in research. But what are the risks of relying on artificial intelligence for legal professionals

A recent Reuters article serves as a cautionary tale for attorneys considering relying on AI, such as ChatGPT, for their legal research needs. The aftermath of the New York attorney who included made-up case citations generated by an artificial intelligence chatbot in a legal brief, sheds light on the potential pitfalls of entrusting AI language models for legal research.

While these AI models are undeniably powerful tools that can quickly generate information and summaries on legal topics, they are not without limitations.

One of the key concerns highlighted in the article is the accuracy and reliability of the information provided by AI-generated text. Legal research demands a high degree of precision, as even small errors or misinterpretations can have significant implications for case outcomes or legal strategies. Relying solely on AI-generated content for personal injury cases can lead to oversights and inaccuracies that may not be immediately apparent. Such as in this instance, wherein the troubled attorney cited six non-existent court decisions within his legal brief against Avianca Airlines.

It is important to note that AI-generated content lacks the ability to discern fact from fiction, nuanced context of legal matters, and relevant factual information from otherwise useless or mass content. Legal cases often hinge on specific details, precedents, interpretations, and noteworthy facts that require human oversight and double- checking. Prompted in part by the New York case, a federal judge in Texas last week issued a requirement for lawyers in cases before him to certify that they did not use AI to draft their filings without a human checking their accuracy.

The legal repercussions of such reliance on AI for legal research can be profound. Attorneys have a professional and ethical responsibility to provide accurate and well-informed advice to their clients. If an attorney bases their legal arguments or strategies on autogenerated content which later turns out to be flawed or inaccurate, they could face serious consequences, including malpractice claims, disciplinary actions, damage to their professional reputation, to name a few. Will AI fact checking be the requirement for the future of the legal field?

It's important for any legal professional to use AI-generated content as a supplementary tool rather than a source of information. AI can be incredibly helpful for quickly summarizing large volumes of text, identifying relevant information, and suggesting supplemental ideas, but human oversight and critical analysis remain essential when ensuring accuracy and reliability of information. Especially in the context of legal research and counsel.

The Reuters article serves as a stark reminder that while AI can be a valuable resource, one should exercise caution. The potential aftermath resulting from inaccurate auto-generated information may wreak havoc on the legal system and legal profession.

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