Most people will have tested out ChatGPT and other forms of Generative AI, but what impact will it and other AI models have on law firms and our clients?

The emergence of Generative AI (artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images or other media using generative models) and, in particular, OpenAI’s ChatGPT provides an insight into the amazing potential that these platforms and the technology possess.

If you google “AI in law firms” you will come across articles proclaiming that AI is revolutionising the profession with a handful of pessimists declaring that many legal jobs will become redundant due to the clever software.

Clearly any system which can be utilised to automate tasks will have a huge impact on all industries, including the legal sector. If the more administrative and mundane work can be automated, it will free up time to deal with the tasks that require greater thought and negotiation. This will ultimately result in cost savings for clients, and an all-round better client experience.

Right now, the technology is not fully polished. Generative AI in its current form has been known to “hallucinate” on occasion and care needs to be taken when using it. There have been instances where users have asked for a summary of case law on a particular subject and the responses they’ve received have been entirely made up – with the cases quoted a figment of the platform’s “imagination”. At present, Generative AI may be able to provide a starting point, but it should not be blindly relied on.

The benefits and, perhaps more importantly, the limitations of Generative AI and automation need to be carefully considered before it is integrated with how we work. As the technology improves, there will be time and cost savings for law firms and clients which will allow more time to be spent on the high-level strategic work which, currently, AI is unable to replicate. However, it is important that we do not hand ourselves over completely to AI and, despite what pessimists may suggest, there will continue to be a place for lawyers. We must ensure a balance is struck between the use of automation/Generative AI and human expertise so that we can continue to provide an excellent, personal service. How often have you called a helpline and been greeted by a pre-recording or been directed to an AI chat box on a website? Human interaction and our relationships with our clients are some of, if not the most, important and most rewarding aspects of our job and this is something that AI cannot replace.

In summary, the advancements and new technologies that are becoming available will have a big impact on the legal profession and our clients, as well as many other industries. We should be excited about the opportunities that they bring while ensuring that we approach it with care so that we can continue to provide the highest quality legal services.

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