AI and Law: Impact of AI on Legal Practice 

AI and Law: Impact of AI on Legal Practice 

Author: Lakshita Mahajan (Student)  

College: Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad                                                                   

  • Abstract-

Artificial Intelligence now has become an inseparable part of our life. It is present in all sectors and nearly affects all of our daily activities significantly. Be it personal assistance from amazon Alexa, or social media platform, customer service or even healthcare, AI impacts many sectors, and legal practice is no exception to this. AI has its profound impact in the sphere of legal practice which would be discussed in this article. Just as there are two sides of coin, similarly, these impacts are both positive and negative, both of which will be analysed in the article. Furthermore, specific impact on the legal practice will be discussed in regards to India and other countries through several examples, case laws and statistics, giving the scenario and current position of AI around the world. The article will be ending with some suggestive measures which should be taken care of, in order avoid the negative impact of the AI on legal practice and inculcate such means by which it can act as a boost to legal practices and not as an obstacle.

Artificial Intelligence, as the name suggest is a human-developed intelligence in the form software devices. Hence, it can be said that it is through using human intelligence and integrating it in the machine which enable the later to think and act like a human. It is considered to be one of greatest inventions of the mankind where it helps in several time-consuming and repetitive works. Some of areas where it helps are in manufacturing goods; where precision and consistency is required, in education sector; where AI can be used to detect students’ progress, areas of focus, and improvement, all of which if done manually consumes a lot of time, in healthcare sector; where with the help of advanced machines and skill and knowledge of the doctors, diseases can detected quickly and cured at appropriate time. AI has a wide range of usage and it is so advanced that it is nearly impossible to avoid it. AI also plays a very vital in the legal sphere, affecting it in many ways. 

Legal practice is a combination of several hard, complex and time-consuming process. With the introduction of AI in this sector, it had made certain changes in the conventional process of legal practices. Starting with its positive impact, following are the relevant points- 

       a) Fast work 

AI can support speedy completion of work. Legal process is often deemed as a time-consuming, prolong process. It involves a lot of paperwork, and the entire process can be very stressful. AI plays a significant role here by easing off this burden, and quickly completing all the burdensome work fast, so that the lawyers can carry out their work peacefully. E-Discovery is one of the examples, where the lawyers can scan the entire document, and just by typing few keywords, they can get the relevant information related to their case. Thus, AI here reduces the burdensome task of going through each and each page, and replaces it with a smart and effective alternative.  

b) Accurate Work

As humans, we all make mistakes. So does lawyers in their work. But there are some places where these mistakes can cost one a lot. Hence, in order to avoid these, AI is used which can work tirelessly and accurately, and can complete the task efficiently, without any apparent mistake. 

c) Used in the process of judgement drafting

The entire legal process in itself is very time-consuming. After the entire process, analysing all the issues, and arguments put in front by both parties, it is now the job of the judge to pass a judgement, which in itself is also a very long process. Hence, the entire process became very long and tiresome. AI thus, helps in the process of judgement drafting, thus shortening the process and reducing the time, by helping the judge(s) of the case to arrive at a decision faster. A recent example to support this claim is a judge in Columbia Judge Juan Manuel Padilla Garcia, has used the AI tool to pose legal questions about the case and included its responses in his decision, according to a court document dated January 30, 2023. The case was of a dispute with a health insurance company regarding whether an autistic child receive coverage for medical treatment or not. The judge in this case has used his own insights combined with ChatGPT’s answers, to pass the decision. According to him, he has used AI to “extend the arguments of the adopted decision.” He also added. “What we are really looking for is to optimize the time spent drafting judgments after corroborating the information provided by AI.”

Another example is of India, of a recent bail order by Judge Anoop Chitkara of the Punjab and Haryana High Court used the OpenAI Source platform, ‘ChatGPT’ to arrive at the bail order, where AI was referred by the constitutional court’s functionary. 

These examples suggest how increasing use of AI can supplement the exhausting judgement drafting process and also help in arriving at decision.

d) Litigation and Contract Analysis

AI also fasten up the time-consuming analysis of contract, by making sure everything in the contract is appropriate and clearly mentioned. When done manually, it is a very hectic and tiresome process, where one has to go through so many pages. Occurrence of mistakes also increases in such scenarios. All of these are not getting avoided with the onset of AI that helps in analysing contact faster and with precision. 

Similarly, AI is now also used to analysis the cost and burden which will be incurred if one goes for litigation. Humans at par do this as well. But many a times it happens that we may tend to forget or commit a mistake in some points. This is where AI plays a commendable role. It plays an immense role in prediction of the judgement and also the cost that will be incurred during the entire process, hence making it easy to decide whether or not one should go for litigation. 

e) Help in Legal Research

Legal research is one of the most important part of legal practice and by nature, also the most time-consuming part where a lawyer needs to go through any and every relevant document which can benefit them in their case. They also need to go through those cases, laws etc. which might degrade their argument and should have rebuttal for it as well. Therefore, it involves a lot reading and analysing. AI had made this entire process really easy, by just typing few details of the case, one may get all the other case laws, statutes, policies etc. regarding the same. AI can also summarize pages long case laws, which further aids the lawyers. There are many such AI tools used for legal research like Casetext, Lex Machina, ChatGPT, LegalRobot, Westlaw Precision etc. 

With all these advantages and many more, one can say that AI indeed plays a very important and arguably unavoidable role in legal practice around the world. It indeed does play a very pivotal role in legal practices, however there are also some threats, some disadvantages that AI has in the legal practice which are discussed below. 

a) Lack of emotional factor-

One of the huge drawbacks of AI in legal practice is lack of emotional factor. Even though, AI may have human intelligence, but they still lack the emotional factor which is also a very important part in legal practices. AI can provide legal assistance, it may pass decision based on pre-adjusted algorithms, but they cannot give a word for assurance to their client, they might not be empathic enough to understand the psychic of the wrongdoer. AI may not consider these factors, but would simply rule in black or white. This is problematic, as without understanding the entire scenario, and lacking the emotional factor, one may not be able to arrive at a just and fair decision, which is the core of legal system around the world. 

b)  Biasness and wrong information- 

Even though AI can do such tasks in a jiffy, for which humans might require hours or even days, the programming of the AI is done by humans. It is them who programs the algorithms for the AI tool to function, which is why there are high chances of it getting biased and giving out wrong information. The information put in by the person programming is affected by that person’s biasness, which also gets reflected in the results. Not just this, there are chances of cognitive bias, where one can give the information based on their own experiences and judgements. There are also chances of mistakes getting committed by programming the algorithms, and when these are left unaddressed, such wrong information might go on. Thus, all of this resulting in miscalculation of the entire process, thereby subduing the legal conduct. To exemplify this, a case reported by the BBC states that a New York based lawyer Peter LoDuca and his colleague Steven A Schwartz are facing legal hearing because the later used OpenAI’s tool, ChatGPT for legal research to find similar cases related to their own case. On this, the AI tool gave out such cases which never existed. The reference of the same was made by Peter LoDuca in his arguments. Tech experts to this responds that there are at times when AI can hallucinate and give false information with such confidence that the user may feel that the given information is correct. The same had happened in the given case. 

c) Data Protection and privacy concern  

Confidentiality plays a very important role in legal practice. Each and every information provided by the client is a matter of confidentiality, and lawyers have to respect it. But while giving the details of the case, and such confidential information to the AI tool, it does raise the data protection and privacy issue. There is some crucial information which we do put in the AI to get result regarding the same. But we do not get any safeguard against the fact that when we are providing AI the confidential information, will it be safe, and protected like it should. If this does not happen, client may not have trust on their lawyer. This can further even complicate the entire legal process. This is a concern which has been left unaddressed by the developers, and is of a serious nature. 

d) Lack of Transparency and Accountability

AI tools operate by using machine language like python. Their algorithms are developed by the developer using machine language which are combination of numbers, some letters and symbols, which are beyond the understanding of a common human being. This makes AI less transparent in arriving at its reasoning, because a human lawyer and client may not understand the algorithm through which AI has reached a particular conclusion. This lack of transparency, raises the issue of accountability and makes it difficult to challenge the AI-generated decisions. This is another concerning drawback of AI in legal practices.

e) Limited Contextual Understanding

This is one of the widely experienced drawbacks of AI in legal practices. AI is enriched in data processing and giving outcomes, however it may not be able to grasp the complicated legal ideas and might struggle in applying them in the problem as well. It happens that AI often provide very generic answers, where one on the contrary need specific answers. There are also many legal problems which can be more easily understood with human intervention and there also are some problems which calls for complex legal advices. All of which is beyond the capacity of the AI to provide. 

  • Conclusion-

Having analysed the positive as well as negative impact of AI on legal practice, it can be said that AI in many ways helps lawyers in carrying out their legal practices, but on the other hand, there are some major drawbacks of it as well, which can question the validity of the AI-generated legal conclusions. Now this further raises the question what should be done? Growing use of AI in the legal sphere is also being seen as a threat to the jobs of lawyers, who fear that AI might replace them. With the expanding scope of AI, their fear is justified. But this cannot happen, unless and until they consider AI as their enemy. As discussed in the article, AI also has several positive impacts on the legal practices which aid the lawyers. Lawyers should learn to incorporate AI in their daily practices while carrying out with their work as avoiding this is not an option. With so many advancements in the world taking place, it is near to impossible to avoid AI. So, what one can do is incorporate AI in their practices, and make use of its positive qualities, while also being caution enough to not getting too much depended on it, and then experiencing the negative impact of it. Thus, it can be said that AI is not the threat to the legal professionals but a powerful ally of them. Both of them share a symbiotic relationship, which can altogether shape the legal sphere in a more advanced and beneficial form. Other negative impact of AI can be avoided by not getting to much depended on AI and using it only at a certain level. One must make sure that they use AI only to ease their work, and not shift their work altogether to AI. Furthermore, developers should try making the reasoning of the AI more transparent by making a bridge between the machine language and the human language, and they should also develop such algorithms which could ensure that the given information remains confidential and legal integrity in maintained. Hence it can be very well concluded, that AI and Legal practice can very well go altogether if one knows how to balance off the positive and negative impact of the same, and where both works together as a team, which can better off everyone. 


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