An associate professor at a prestigious business college isn’t banning student use of generative artificial intelligence aids — rather, he’s requiring it.
Ethan Mollick of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School wants his students to learn to effectively use cutting-edge tools such as AI chatbots — both to gain from the extended capabilities but also to learn to responsibly manage mistakes those tools create, according to an NPR report. Mollick likened his philosophy to teaching math with calculators.
Perhaps his example could prove useful in the legal profession.
Lawyers have been grappling with what sort of upheaval AI tools could create. To be sure, the speculation about AI’s potential extends across industries, even leading federal lawmakers to explore how to regulate this rapidly evolving and powerful corner of technology. Hopes and fears abound. And AI chatbot Chat GPT — perhaps the most well-known example — hasn’t even been around a year.
In a recent survey by Above the Law and Wolters Kluwer, 62 percent of respondents said effective use of generative AI would create a success divide among law firms within five years. The greatest implications are for research and routine tasks; more than two-thirds of respondents said document review lawyers, librarians and others in this area face the greatest risk of obsolescence. If these predictions are correct, law firms can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.
But does that mean abandoning discovery counsel and service providers in favor of fully technology-assisted document review platforms? We think the answer is a resounding no.
Rather, law firms must harness AI tools in such a way that — as with the Wharton School students — they benefit from the advantages but manage the risks. Trusted service providers can supplement with a managed review team to not only help train the model for effective machine learning but to identify and summarize the relevant data for the attorneys who need to argue the merits of the case. They can help firms dip a toe in the AI waters, adapting their strategies as they determine how the tools can best benefit that particular firm.
While AI offers tremendous potential — such as efficiency and cost reduction — the possible pitfalls abound, particularly for those who rush into it blindly. A computer lacks the judgment of a human, may confidently offer misleading answers (called “hallucinations”), and at times requires plenty of guidance to elicit the appropriate response (effective prompt engineering). Lawyers must still understand what was produced and how it’s useful to their case. They must analyze search results for gaps or context, ensure defensibility of discovered documents and collection methodology, and manage data confidentiality and privilege issues.
Even if a firm used pure AI to handle document production and predict documents for relevancy, AI will not tell you why that document is the smoking gun or the document that will release your client from all liability. Similarly, AI will not write motions to dismiss, argue a case in court, or depose witnesses.
Litigation support partners can fill this gap as law firms venture into the world of generative or predictive AI. Array, for example, offers a full suite of managed review services, including first pass review, quality assurance and control, confidentiality and redaction review, and privilege review and privilege log generation — tailoring tools to the nuances of each case.
As increasing amounts of information become digital — emails, chats, cloud-based collaboration tools, etc. etc. — the sheer volume of documents necessitates more use of technological tools. Indeed, by 2025, global data creation could top 180 zettabytes, according to a forecast published by Statista. That’s beyond the analysis of humans alone.
And for those who aren’t tech mavens, even gathering the appropriate tools to climb this data mountain can seem overwhelming.
But legal professionals can win here, just as in court, by getting the right experts on their teams. AI is coming; while AI will not replace lawyers, lawyers using AI will likely replace lawyers who are not and trusted service providers can help manage AI efforts so lawyers can concentrate on using these extended capacities to better serve their clients.