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February 13, 2024 Road Warrior

Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT for the Road Warrior

Jeffrey Allen
GPT and similar AI models can help road warrior attorneys enhance efficiency and improve client service.

GPT and similar AI models can help road warrior attorneys enhance efficiency and improve client service.

Ezra Bailey via Getty Images

When I first wrote about artificial intelligence (AI) and ChaptGPT (“Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law,” March/April 2023), I predicted that it would continue to evolve and assume a role of increasing importance to us and in connection with our practices. The last year or so has certainly seen the truth of that prediction come to bear. AI has become one of the most popular topics to write about, and its use has generated much consternation in the practice of law.

As we entered into 2024 and I faced the task of writing my first “Road Warrior” column for the new year, I decided that, even though I wrote about AI at length last year, its importance merits another column. As I like taking a prospective perspective, I decided not to summarize where we ended up in 2023 but to look forward to the uses we might find for AI (or it might generate for itself) in 2024 and beyond and what issues those uses might create. Lots of people, including me, have taken the time to talk about where we have gone in connection with AI. Let’s open this year with an eye on where we might go with AI and/or AI might take us going forward.

As this article focuses on AI, I thought it only reasonable and responsible that I allow AI a chance to voice its opinion (I use that term advisedly). Accordingly, I consulted ChatGPT 3.5 in connection with this article, and you may consider it my coauthor of this article. That is not something I normally do, but it seemed appropriate for this article.

I created three topics for ChatGPT and fed them to it, asking for a response to each topic. I felt that each of the three overlapped and addressed issues important to attorneys in connection with their practices and, in particular, to road warriors. As an aside, I acknowledge that I have had thoughts about the term “road warrior” surviving past its prime and becoming somewhat archaic. I ran that by ChatGPT as well and discovered that it agreed with my concern. It responded:

The term “road warrior” has its origins in a time when professionals, including attorneys, frequently traveled for business, often by road. While the term may not be as commonly used today as it once was, it is not necessarily outdated or irrelevant. Whether it’s “road warrior” or other phrases like “frequent traveler” or “mobile attorney,” the concept of attorneys who frequently travel for work is still applicable in today’s society.
Many attorneys, especially those involved in litigation, client meetings, or business development, continue to travel regularly, whether by road, air, or other means. The nature of their work may require them to be on the move, attending court hearings, depositions, client meetings, or negotiations in various locations.
While the term “road warrior” may not be as commonly used in casual conversation as it once was, it can still describe a certain subset of attorneys whose work involves frequent travel and mobility. Ultimately, the terminology may evolve over time, but the concept of attorneys who travel extensively for work remains relevant in the legal profession.

It feels good to know that the label still has some relevance, but we may want to think about another term to distinguish that particular subset of attorneys from the vast majority who now do enough work outside their brick-and-mortar office environment to qualify as road warriors in the sense we used that term during the last 20 to 30 years. (Perhaps later this year, we will run a contest to come up with a new name.)

Q&A with AI

I asked ChatGPT to respond to three topics, some exclusively oriented to road warriors and others not so limited:

  1. Offer guidance on strategic planning, goal setting, and business development strategies to position your law practice for success in the coming year.
  2. Discuss how artificial intelligence and automation are transforming legal processes and the potential benefits and challenges they present.
  3. Discuss how artificial intelligence and automation are transforming legal processes and the potential benefits and challenges they present for road warrior attorneys.

Not surprisingly, some of the responses overlapped. Comfortingly, most of the responses peacefully coexist with each other. With that introduction, let me share with you the advice ChatGPT offered respecting the use of AI and its projections for the future. I have edited some of the responses from ChatGPT and included some of my own thoughts. Now that I have done that and disclosed it to you, I have created one of the dilemmas inherent to the use of ChatGPT. As you read this article, you will have no way of knowing whether the suggestion you see came from AI, came from me, or resulted from my interaction with AI-generated information. Interesting questions for you: Do you care? Does it make a difference? The bottom line: I think the points make sense and offer them to you for your consideration and potential adoption. Do you really need to know whether I thought of the point myself, or had help from AI, or if AI generated it all by itself and I just adopted it? You might keep that question in mind as you read this article and as you consider the evolution of AI and, inevitably, read about it in other articles.

Planning for the Future with AI

Strategic planning, goal setting, and effective business development strategies have critical importance in positioning your law practice for success in 2024 and going forward. Remember that strategic planning and business development remain ongoing processes. Regularly revisit and update your plans to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities.

Artificial intelligence and automation have profoundly impacted many aspects of our personal and professional lives and will do so even more in the future. The impact on the legal profession has caused the commencement of a transformation of various aspects of legal practice. AI and automation offer benefits in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings. Conversely, they also pose challenges related to job displacement, data privacy, bias, ethics, and regulatory compliance. The successful integration of AI and automation in the practice of law will require a well-thought-out, carefully balanced approach that harnesses the technology’s advantages while responsibly addressing the challenges it creates.

AI and automation have initiated a reshaping of the practice of law in potentially profound ways. These technologies can offer substantial benefits along with some unique challenges for road warrior attorneys who often need to juggle tasks on the go.

Recommendations for 2024

To succeed in 2024 and beyond, consider these suggestions:

  1. Evaluate the Current Status of Your Practice
    1. Begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment of your law practice. Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT analysis).
    2. Review financial performance, client feedback, and employee satisfaction.
    3. Assess your practice’s core areas of expertise and the competitive landscape.
  2.  Define Your Vision and Mission
    1. Clarify your practice’s long-term vision and mission statement. Identify your values and the focus of your practice.
    2. Ensure that your practice’s vision aligns with your personal and professional goals.
  3. Set SMART Goals
    1. Create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals. Make the goals specific, quantifiable, and realistic, and give them clear deadlines.
    2. Set both short-term and long-term goals, covering areas such as revenue growth, client acquisition, and practice expansion.
  4. Identify Key Strategies
    1. Develop strategies to achieve your goals.
    2. Consider strategies related to marketing, client retention, cost management, and practice management.
  5. Embrace Technology and Innovation
    1. Stay up-to-date with technological advancements in the legal field.
    2. Invest in legal technology tools and software that can improve your efficiency and client service.

The Benefits for Lawyers of Employing AI

Staying up-to-date with technology today includes the careful and responsible use of AI. To help, I asked ChatGPT to identify some of the benefits and problems affecting lawyers in general and road warriors in particular. From my perspective, the benefits and challenges suggested for road warriors and attorneys in general apply substantially equally to both, with one notable exception. Road warriors have traditionally had less flexibility or tolerance for errors in technology than those working in a brick-and-mortar office with lots of support personnel. Accordingly, while some points address both lawyers generally and road warriors more specifically, the impact may differ depending on the practice setting.

For lawyers in general, ChatGPT suggested that AI offered the following benefits when properly deployed in your practice:

  1. Increased efficiency. AI and automation can perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as document review, legal research, and contract analysis faster and with fewer errors than humans. This can free up attorneys’ time to focus on more strategic and complex aspects of their work.
  2. Cost reduction. By automating routine tasks, law firms and legal departments can reduce operational costs associated with support staff, leading to potential cost savings for clients.
  3. Enhanced accuracy. AI algorithms can review vast amounts of legal data with high precision, minimizing the risk of human error. This offers considerable benefits in tasks such as due diligence and compliance monitoring.
  4. Faster case analysis. AI-driven predictive analytics can help lawyers assess case outcomes faster and more accurately, enabling them to make more informed decisions and develop better legal strategies.
  5. Improved document management. AI-powered document management systems can classify and organize documents rapidly and efficiently, making it easier to locate critical information during litigation or transactions.
  6. 24/7 availability. AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide clients with round-the-clock access to basic legal information and assistance, improving client service.

In looking over the preceding list, I found it difficult to argue with any of the suggested advantages. Properly deployed, AI offers them to all legal practitioners. ChatGPT suggested the following additional (and occasionally overlapping) benefits for road warriors:

  1. Access to information. AI-driven legal research tools can provide attorneys with access to vast databases of case law, statutes, and regulations from anywhere, allowing them to stay informed and make better decisions while traveling.
  2. Predictive analysis. AI can assist attorneys in predicting case outcomes, which can prove especially useful for road warrior attorneys who need to make strategic decisions while away from the office.
  3. Improved client service. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can offer clients immediate responses to common legal questions, enhancing client service even when attorneys are unavailable due to travel.
  4. Time tracking and billing. AI-based time tracking and billing software can automate the process, ensuring that billable hours are accurately recorded, which is vital for maintaining profitability.

The Dangers for Lawyers Employing AI

Nothing comes without its problems, including, perhaps especially, technology. ChatGPT identified the following as challenges or problems for attorneys in general relating to the use of AI in their practices:

  1. Job displacement. The adoption of AI and automation may lead to concerns about job displacement among legal support staff, paralegals, and junior attorneys, potentially reducing employment opportunities in some areas of the legal profession. It may also negatively impact employee morale, particularly in the positions most directly threatened by the employment of AI.
  2. Data privacy and security. The use of AI in a legal practice can require handling sensitive and confidential information. Ensuring data privacy and security while leveraging AI tools presents a significant challenge; data breaches can have severe consequences.
  3. Bias and fairness. AI algorithms can inherit biases from the data on which they train, potentially leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes in legal decision-making. Efforts to mitigate bias in AI systems are essential.
  4. Ethical considerations. Lawyers must grapple with ethical dilemmas related to the use of AI in legal practice, including issues such as transparency, accountability, and the delegation of professional judgment to machines.
  5. Initial costs and training. Implementing AI and automation systems requires a significant initial investment in technology and training. Small and solo law firms may face difficulties in adopting these tools due to the initial expense.
  6. Overreliance on technology. Lawyers may become overly reliant on AI and automation, potentially undermining their critical thinking and legal reasoning skills.
  7. Regulatory challenges. The legal industry is subject to specific regulations and ethical guidelines that may not have kept pace with AI advancements. Navigating these regulatory complexities may prove challenging. Additionally, the rules continue to evolve. Lawyers must make it a point to stay current regarding the rules respecting AI adopted by regulatory bodies.

Finally, ChatGPT suggested the following challenges for road warriors in addition to those that overlapped with the general suggestions:

  1. Training and adoption. Implementing AI and automation tools will require training and adjustment periods, which might prove challenging for road warrior attorneys constantly on the move.
  2. Technical issues. Like any technology, AI and automation tools can experience technical glitches, potentially disrupting work for attorneys on the road.

AI Will Complement Your Expertise, Not Replace It

AI and automation offer attorneys the potential for increased efficiency, better access to information, and improved client service. However, they also present challenges related to data security, cost, ethical considerations, and the need for ongoing training. To fully benefit from these technologies, attorneys should carefully evaluate their specific needs, invest in the right tools, and stay informed about best practices and regulatory changes in the legal industry. Status as a road warrior can exacerbate the problems as, traditionally, road warriors have less immediate support and less flexibility in responding to problems they encounter on the road than they would have in a fully supported brick-and-mortar office environment.

Using GPT or a similar AI model can prove a useful tool for road warrior attorneys to enhance efficiency, assist with research, and improve client service. However, we need to recognize the limitations of such technology, especially in complex legal matters. Attorneys should use AI as a complement to their expertise, exercising due diligence in safeguarding data and adhering to ethical standards. The decision to incorporate AI into a legal practice requires careful consideration of the specific needs and requirements of the office and its clients.

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Jeffrey Allen

Graves & Allen

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California. He is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of GPSolo magazine and the GPSolo eReport and serves as an editor and the technology columnist for Experience magazine. A frequent speaker and writer on technology topics, he is coauthor (with Ashley Hallene) of Technology Tips for Lawyers and Other Business Professionals (ABA, 2016).