Last week, I posted on the issue of whether law schools should be teaching students how to use tools like ChatGPT. After I posted this, James Lau, well known legal tech author, and former Chief Legal Officer, pointed out to me that Open AI, GPT-4 Technical Report, 14 March 2023, states, “In particular, our usage policies prohibit the use of our models and products in the contexts of high risk government decision making (e.g., law enforcement, criminal justice, migration, and asylum), or for offering legal or health advice.” (page 6)


I was generally aware of this prohibition (or disclaimer, depending on your point of view) but failed to mention it in my post. The problem is that I used the term ChatGPT like we often use the term Kleenex. Kleenex is the name of a brand of tissue paper, but there are other brands of tissue paper as well. But we often use the word Kleenex when we really mean tissue paper.

I was guilty of using the term ChatGPT similarly. ChatGPT is the public open generative AI tool developed by OpenAI. It searches data from all public areas to provide its answers. ChatGPT is a sort of “brand” of generative AI. But it is not the only one. And other generative AI tools work differently and, importantly, use different and more limited data. Casetext’s product, CoCounsel, for example, is an AI tool tailored for use by lawyers. It thus promises to be more accurate than ChatGPT, in part because the data it uses is more limited to legal sources.

Not only are there other stand alone generative AI products being developed, but developers are applying OpenAI’s product to more limited data sets to improve its accuracy and reduce its errors (hallucinations). This allows the AI product to be more focused on the needs of particular users.

I fear many lawyers and legal professionals hear generative AI and think that ChatGPT is the only product

All well and good, except I fear many lawyers and legal professionals hear generative AI and think that ChatGPT is the only product. The one they should use for any and all purposes. This week at LegalWeek 2023, the results of a survey done by LexisNexis were released. (The full Report will come soon). These results suggest that there may be uninformed lawyers who believe that the hyped ChatGPT is something they should be using. And they may unknowingly rush to use it.

The Survey was based on the responses of over 4,100 lawyers, law students, and consumers (1,176 were lawyers). According to the Survey, 86% of the lawyers said they were aware of generative AI such as ChatGPT. 51% had either already used it or were planning to. 84% believe it will increase lawyers’ efficiency. It’s hard to believe that many lawyers have taken the time to understand how generative AI works and the differences among the various products.

Since ChatGPT is the generative tool that has received the most publicity, many of the respondents may be doing what I did. Using and thinking of ChatGPT as shorthand for generative AI without realizing that there are now and will be various generative AI programs. In a rush to use what everyone seems think is a great tool, the temptation may be for lawyers to jump to the public ChartGPT. But that public model is not exactly the best for what lawyers want to achieve. The error rate and hallucinations for ChatGPT are still high and, as the developers said, can’t be relied on where accuracy is essential.

Another problem with using ChatGBT without understanding it: lawyers need to know when and how to use it and other generative AI tools. As the OpenAI developers noted, ChatGPT should not be relied on for “legal advice.” As lawyers, we can better see the line between helpful background information and pure legal advice. But that line, even to us, is blurry. And I’m not sure whether our understanding as lawyers of what is or isn’t legal advice may differ from those who are not lawyers. Like the ChatGBT developers. And as Lau astutely pointed out to me, lawyers might need to consider whether their malpractice insurance extends to the use of ChatGPT, particularly given the position of OpenAI on legal use. 

And, of course, there are confidentiality issues with using a public generative tool like ChatGPT. ChatGBT looks at all available information to formulate responses. If a lawyer supplies confidential information in asking ChatGPT a question, that material is no longer confidential. It can be seen and used by others who also use ChatGPT. By providing client information to ChatGPT, a lawyer may have breached confidentiality obligations. And may waive the privilege.

At the very least, lawyers contemplating using any generative AI tool need a baseline understanding of the tool.

At the very least, lawyers contemplating using any generative AI tool need a baseline understanding of the tool. They need to know what it does, and what data it’s looking at. At an opening panel this week at LegalWeek, a Panel of experts in a session entitled, Reshaping the Legal Profession: Thriving in the Age of Generative AI & ChatGPTidentified several things a lawyer should know in using generative AI:

Can the results be trusted?

Can the system explain how the result was reached?

What are the impacts of interactions between the human with the tool?

Who are the major players in the space (and how different)?

What has the experience with the tool been?

Bottom line, the need for lawyers to understand the risks and benefits of all technology has never been greater. This need is especialy true for generative AI. And the role of law schools in facilitating that recognition has also never been higher. Law schools need to ensure that students know the need to assess benefits and risks. To understand what the program is looking at, its bias, and its accuracy. They need to be sure lawyers know how to assess the validity of what the generative AI tools are telling them. And learn how to effectively and accurately use the tools.

So if I misled anyone about what ChatGPT can do, I am sorry. But I stand by my original thesis. Law schools have a responsibility to teach students about the need to understand risks and benefits of technology. And help them know what to do with tech tools like generative AI.

Lots of questions and unease surround the use of ChatGPT in the classroom and education. The issue may be particularly acute for law schools and professors. Law schools are charged with teaching core legal concepts that (should) equip students to practice law. 

Many law school professors reportedly question how they can do that if students can have the concepts laid out for them by ChatGPT. Even ChatGPT questions how this can be done if students can use ChatGPT on such things as exams. 

Continue Reading Should ChatGPT Be In Law School?

I recently listened to Stephen Poor‘s podcast entitled Pioneers and Pathfinders. I am a regular listener and find it to be always enlightening. (Poor is Chair Emeritus of the large and innovative law firm, Seyfarth Shaw). This past week, Poor’s guest was John Alber, a former partner at Bryan Cave and its Strategic Innovation Partner for many years. Alber was one of the first chief innovation officers in a big law firm, so his experience in that regard, I thought, would be pretty revealing. And he didn’t disappoint. 

Continue Reading When It Comes to Tech, Lawyers in Law Firms Are Entrepreneurs

Last week was the ABA TECHSHOW 2023 in Chicago. I am partial to this show–it’s my favorite of the legal technology shows I attend. It’s my favorite not only because it’s put on by the ABA Law Practice Division, of which I am the current Chair (Yes, I know. I can’t be impartial about this). But it was my favorite even before I became Chair or commenced a leadership position in the Division. I have written about TECHSHOW several times, here, here, and here.

TECHSHOW is geared more toward smaller firms and solo lawyers. There is less high-power selling and nerd speak. There is more education, training and discussion. There is space for more substantive discussions and learning from vendors. People are less interested in sales and more interested in learning. 

Continue Reading ABA TECHSHOW 2023: A Joyous Celebration.  A Rousing Success

I spent this week at the ABA TechShow, which is put on by the Law Practice Division of which I am current Chair. The Show was a rousing success.

Lots of hoopla about new artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, generative AI, neural networks, and large language models. Pablo Arredondo, CEO of Casetext, and I presented on the topic. Well, Pablo presented; I just tried to stay out of the way. Pablo is one of the few people who can talk about these tools in a way that even I can understand it.

Continue Reading AI, Generative AI, ChatGPT, Robot Lawyers: Why Should I Care? Are Robots Going to Replace Us ?

Why are lawyers incompetent when it comes to e-Discovery: Hubris. Time. Perceived easier options.


Stephanie Wilkins recently wrote an excellent article entitled, “Is Attorney E-Discovery Incompetence the Elephant in the Room?” In it, Wilkins notes a recent Report from eDiscovery Today, a website paper from EDRM, commentary by several exerts, and several recent examples that all evidence the glaring ignorance of so many lawyers about e-discovery issues:

Continue Reading Why Are Lawyers So Darned Incompetent With E-Discovery? Three Reasons

I recently published a post that discussed client pressures on law firms to take public stands on social issues. These issues are often controversial and can be tricky for law firms.

In the process of conceptualizing the post, ChatGBT hit the news. I decided to use it least to get started. The results were interesting and showed both the power and limitations of the tool. I ended up with two posts. The post you are reading shows how I used—and didn’t use—ChatGPT. The other was the actual substantive post on the relevent issues.

Continue Reading I Asked ChatGPT to Help Write a Post on Law Firms: Here Is How It Turned Out

I recently came across an article by Tiana Headley of Bloomberg Law that discussed client pressures on law firms to take public stands on social issues. The same issue was front and center in the excellent book by David Enrich Servants of the Damned. These issues are often controversial and divisive and arouse passions among both law firm partners and clients.

It is becoming more and more common for individuals and businesses to take public stands on various social and political issues. This trend is certainly evident in the legal industry, where clients are beginning to demand that their law firms also take positions on important social issues.

Continue Reading Clients Demand Public Positions on Contentious Social Issues: What’s a Law Firm to Do?

As the Covid pandemic finally (hopefully) begins to wind down, 2023 may be the year law firms will need to reach more definite decisions about remote work.

Certainly, law firms have been grabbling with this thorny issue for some time. And policies have been in flux as the pandemic ebbed and flowed. Also, the increased legal workload and shortage of lawyers to handle that load may have forced firms to somewhat reluctantly throw in the towel. They began to let lawyers and associates work where and when they wanted. But when the hot legal market began to cool, firms began to do an about face and require lawyers to be in the office, at least some of the time. But should that be certain days of the week, like Tuesday through Thursday? Should it be every day? Should it be left to the discretion of individual lawyers? Practice groups?

Continue Reading Dealing with the Remote Work Conundrum: Six Best Practices

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been

Wayne Gretzky

Last week, I was back at the sprawling CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I go every year, although I missed the last two years due to the pandemic. 

CES has always been gracious enough to extend a media pass to me, even though I write more about legal tech than consumer tech. CES goes out of its way to accommodate the media. Nice media rooms close to most of the sessions and exhibit halls. Lunch every day. Lots of background material to make our jobs easier, not harder. It’s nice to feel welcomed for a change.

Continue Reading CES 2023: 10 Tech Trends That Will Impact Legal