Management Assistance Program
A Time of Great Change Caused by Artificial Intelligence Developments
By Jim Calloway
Artificial intelligence development dominated discussions of technological advancement in 2023.
Judge Scott Schlegel from Louisiana was a speaker at the 2023 Oklahoma Access to Justice Summit. Last year, I noted his conviction that both courts and law firms should embrace text message reminders to reduce failure-to-appear issues. Lawyers want to make certain their clients, especially potential new clients, do not miss their scheduled appointments as well as any court appearances.
“Embracing AI in the Legal Sphere: A Necessity, Not a Choice,” was the title of Judge Schlegel’s recent post on his Substack account. He explains the inevitability of AI adoption quite well:
If there was any lingering doubt about the pervasive role of AI and generative technologies in our professional lives, Microsoft’s recent move to integrate an AI button into their keyboards should dispel it. This is not just a fleeting trend; it’s a clear signal of a future where generative AI is seamlessly woven into nearly every product we use, especially in the practice of law.
As lawyers and judges, the temptation to view AI as a distant, abstract concept may be strong. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that AI is not just a passing fad. We must recognize that the genie is out of the bottle and that AI will reshape the landscape of numerous industries, including our own, over the next few years. Microsoft’s addition of an AI button to its keyboard is a testament to the increasing integration of AI in everyday tools, heralding a future where AI’s presence is ubiquitous.
For the legal profession, this evolution brings both challenges and opportunities. The shift towards AI-enhanced tools is not just about adopting new technologies; it’s about fundamentally rethinking how we approach our work. AI has the potential to make the justice system more efficient, effective, and accessible, but it requires us to be proactive learners so we can understand its capabilities and limitations. We cannot bury our heads in the sand.
Anyone interested in how technology can be used in the judicial system should subscribe to Judge Schlegel’s Substack account to receive his posts by email. Despite the well-publicized ethical issues by lawyers who used AI to draft briefs without attempting to read the cases it quoted (which did not exist), AI will reshape many things in society, including the legal profession and the legal system.
MORE CHANGE AHEAD
Why are so many predicting great change for the legal profession and legal systems because of this particular technological advance? We’ve survived the advent of many new technology tools, from faxing to the internet and email. Simply put, these new AI tools do what lawyers do. They receive input in a conversational format and give output in well-written, persuasive text. Certainly, AI does not just impact lawyers. Do you know how many internal corporate memos are completed and communicated each day? I don’t either. But most of these memos are drafted by humans, and that will not be the case in a relatively short period of time. Knowledgeable employees will not lose their jobs. Someone will be needed to proofread the AI’s work product. I would estimate I could proofread and revise 10 memos in the time it takes to draft one or two. So someone’s employment will be ultimately endangered. But, in many situations, AI usage will just allow workers to shift their focus to more high-level work and reduce time spent on the more mundane.
Memos that are just reports based on information in the company’s system will be the first to be automated with no human review.
The flood of new AI tools over the past year is very impressive. But adopting new technologies is a process that does take some time. Famed legal futurist Richard Susskind has opined that we are probably overestimating the short-term impact of AI while underestimating the long-term impact.
These changes will be stressful and challenging. Change management is challenging, especially for those who have been doing things in a similar manner for years. But there is simply no avoiding the changes caused by AI adoption in the legal profession.
AI ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION IS NOW AVAILABLE
In December 2023, I hosted a video roundtable on the ethical challenges of using generative AI in the legal field for the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. The panel featured four experts: Damien Riehl, Ivy B. Grey, Jayne Reardon and Kenton Brice. We discussed the evolution and impact of AI on the legal profession, the benefits and limitations of AI tools, the ethical implications and regulations of AI and the integration of AI in law schools. The roundtable was summarized by Zoom’s AI companion, which demonstrates the potential of AI. You can watch the video and read the summary on Law Technology Today, which is outside of the ABA members-only paywall.
MICROSOFT RELEASES COPILOT FOR THE REST OF US
If you are ready to subscribe to a powerful AI tool, Microsoft made a mid-January announcement that Copilot was available for the rest of us to subscribe. The 300-seat requirement for firms has now been dropped, and individuals can now subscribe. The Verge broke the story and reminded us there are three versions of Copilot:
Microsoft now has three different versions of Copilot. There’s the regular Copilot that’s available free of charge to both consumers and businesses, which is essentially a chatbot much like ChatGPT. Then, there’s the new Copilot Pro option that’s launching for consumers today for a $20 per month premium, offering AI-powered Copilot features inside Office apps and elsewhere. Microsoft now also offers the same premium subscription with more features to businesses in the form of Copilot for Microsoft 365 at $30 per user per month pricing.
Since this just launched at the deadline for bar journal submission, I don’t have all the details available, but the pricing seems to depend on your Microsoft 365 plan, with home users paying $20 per month for fewer features than the $30 version offered to business package subscribers. Using AI to quickly create PowerPoints from text will be a popular feature. For those of us who don’t have graphic design skills, creating graphics from text will be useful as well, even if you mainly use this for personal projects.
OTHER AI DEVELOPMENTS
LexisNexis is now offering Lexis+ AI, touting the service as “the fastest legal generative AI with conversational search, drafting, summarization, document analysis and linked hallucination-free legal citations.” Currently, a free trial is available.
Thomson Reuters has announced Westlaw Precision now includes generative AI. The company notes, “Simply ask a question in everyday language and get a relevant answer with links to trusted Westlaw authority in moments.” A free trial is available.
Microsoft Bing now offers a very useful AI-powered tool with Bing Chat. It is free, easy to use and quite powerful. For example, some questions it suggests include “Give me a list of new hobbies I could pursue with limited free time,” and “What should I pack for a 10-day trip in a mountainous region?” If you haven’t tried AI yet, Bing Chat would be a good starting place. It is powered by GPT-4, which is an improved version of ChatGPT. This new Bing chatbot is the only way to access GPT-4 for free, according to the company. For more information see the post, “Access ChatGPT 4 Using Bing AI with Ease.”
Microsoft Copilot chatbot is accessed via the Microsoft Edge browser.
Bard is Google’s entry into the browser-based AI category. It is free. I asked Bard which features distinguished it from other AI tools. The response included: “Focus on factuality and grounding in the real world, emphasis on safety and responsible AI, multilingual capabilities and the ability to generate texts in many creative formats such as poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email and letters.”
We first saw ClearBrief at ABA TECHSHOW 2022. ClearBrief is a Word add-on for checking your brief (or opposing counsel’s) for misstating the facts or law. It also is used to easily assemble a table of authorities. But it has since been improved and can now integrate facts from discovery or other documents right into the first draft of your brief. Subscriptions start at $125 per month per user.
Spellbook is an AI contract drafting software that has been trained on thousands of business contracts as well as other data. I would encourage you to watch the four-minute video at www.spellbook.legal. I believe that in a few short years, it is possible most contracts will be drafted using AI contract drafting tools.
Copy.ai is not for legal writing. But it is a great tool for writing for an audience, whether it is a blog post or website copy. The free version is limited to writing 2,000 words per month. The pro version is $36 per month for up to five users and has priority tech support.
The above list is far from comprehensive, and new AI developments seem to be announced almost daily.
Other types of AI tools will have wide-ranging impacts.
Volkswagen is adding ChatGPT into their new cars to allow drivers to have conversations with their cars. The second quarter of 2024 is when they are expected to be available. “Sorry, officer, I was distracted by an in-depth discussion with my car.”
Augmental is developing tongue-controlled mouse pads that users wear inside their mouths. This will likely be a major development for those with disabilities.
I have shared several AI tools that a lawyer may use. Readers likely will not have time to preview all of these tools, so pick one or two to give a test drive. More variations will continue to appear.
If you haven’t settled on an AI tool yet, you are encouraged to consider Microsoft Copilot. While an additional $360 per year is not a small investment, the number of ways it can be used is impressive. Having a database of all the documents the firm or lawyer has created for the AI to use is powerful. But the PowerPoint and graphics creation tools are also something that many lawyers may use as well.
Mr. Calloway is OBA Management Assistance Program director. Need a quick answer to a tech problem or help solving a management dilemma? Contact him at 405-416-7008, 800-522-8060 or email@example.com. It’s a free member benefit.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — February, 2024 — Vol. 95, No. 2