Let’s talk about ChatGPT and the benefits it could bring - Rob Aberdein

The arrival of ChatGPT has inspired every industry to consider afresh how AI could revolutionise its processes

ChatGPT is a bot powered by AI. You can type in a prompt or a question and expect an articulate, broadly accurate answer in reply.

Once nothing more than an interesting thought experiment, the reality of AI and its potential for change is now imminent. It excites some, scares others. For most of us, it’s a bit of both. What about the legal profession?

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First, Chat GPT’s capacity to interpret, examine, manage and produce large bodies of written content would seem tailor-made for lawyers.

Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at ProgenyRob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny
Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer at Progeny

It could be used to reply to certain defined types of email correspondence, or draft suggested responses to be checked and sent by a lawyer.

It could scour legal contracts for specific information, or digest a particular legal problem and research potential solutions for a firm to explore.

Chat GPT could also help firms get up to speed quickly with developments in specialist areas or scope out new areas by asking questions of the AI in a structured, specific and interactive learning exercise.

In addition to reducing time spent on administrative and research tasks, AI could also help minimise the risk of human error.

All the above applications could help reduce lawyer workload (and stress), root out inefficiency and boost idea generation and productivity. This would free up lawyers to concentrate on higher-value or more challenging work, like developing strategy, growing their business and focusing on client satisfaction.

In terms of client satisfaction, I believe tech like Chat GPT comes with its own potential benefits for users of legal services – such as costs coming down, as firms pass on savings. It could also power the development of certain products aimed at sectors of the market currently underserved by the legal profession.

This could widen the industry, broadening access to legal services to new demographics traditionally excluded by cost, for example,by using cost-effective, AI-powered products - and fixed fee structures as a result of efficiencies.

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Should we have reservations? There will always be issues to work through.

On moral grounds, we should consider whether it’s right to allow AI into our processes. It’s our responsibility to make mindful decisions where the line should be drawn between human and software. Despite how it might feel to detractors, law is a very human profession.

We have integrity as proud proponents of our profession; do we want to hand over so much of it to AI? I’d repeat that letting the machine take the strain with low-value work can allow us to hit new heights with high-value work – being the best lawyers we can be.

Technology is powerful, but not invincible or infallible. It can malfunction, be sabotaged or hacked, so security should be top of our agenda when deciding how to move forward.

AI bots interpreting legal content at speed and scale could fall foul of plagiarism, which could create more legal problems than the technology sets out to solve, so protection against copyright infringement demands close attention.

Instruments like Chat GPT have the capacity to be powerful game-changers, but AI tools must be developed specifically for the legal profession, to protect against pitfalls and allow us to hone and perfect them to our, and clients’, full advantage.

AI is not here to replace lawyers or threaten the integrity of the profession. Understood and employed correctly, it can improve and augment both.

Rob Aberdein is Chief Commercial Officer, Progeny

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