Will ChatGPT replace lawyers?

TL;DR: Will ChatGPT replace lawyers? Not yet.

ChatGPT has generated much press since its latest iteration was released in November 2022. There are plenty of articles that better explain what it does than this one. But, in short, it is a chatbot using “large language model” AI technology trained using massive online databases (around 300 billion words).  

Microsoft is so impressed that it is reportedly investing $10bn. It is proposing to add this functionality to its Bing search engine and, in time, to its Office suite of programs. With the sale of other shares currently proposed by its owner, this will value it at $29bn. Not bad for a chatbot. Is this reminiscent of the Dot Com bubble or is there real value here?

It’s still at an early stage. Even co-founder Sam Altman warned: “ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now.”

Will it replace or supplement lawyers?

It’s clear this isn’t your average chatbot though. Will it supplement or even replace lawyers? Well, it has already scored over 50% in the multiple choice section of the US Bar Exam. It seems it will soon pass that section and outperform humans after that. 

But its answers to legal questions seem reasonably good so far. Maybe it can produce advice, write articles or even contracts? It is currently free to try out as it continues to develop, but is often not accessible as it has been overwhelmed since release. Sadly it was at capacity when I tried it, so I’ve had to write this article myself! 

But it produces a prominent disclaimer that you should take legal advice. You should also be sure it’s giving you an answer based on English law and not Californian (or some other) law it found. They are two separate legal systems with their own statutes and case law. For example, the UK Data Protection Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act don’t achieve the same outcomes. I can’t count the number of times people have told me they’ve found some terms on the internet and can I “just spend a few minutes making sure it’s fit for purpose”. This is often a false economy depending upon the source material.

It’s also worth reading the ChatGPT terms. They will assign to you all rights they have in the output. Great! But, without knowing how much it rewrote and how much it copy-pasted from its sources, you might be taking a risk that you are using plagiarised content. Also, as is typical of technology from the USA – particularly free services – it comes with caveats. In particular, the service is provided “as is” with the usual disclaimers of warranties & liabilities, and all losses are capped at $100. Maybe the paid-for service will have fewer caveats, who knows.

The future is not quite now. But soon.

If you need advice, contact me f.jennings@teacherstern.com or +44 (0) 20 7611 2338.

But if you’re after free advice, try your luck with ChatGPT!

This post first appeared on the Teacher Stern website here.

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