chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
February 13, 2024 Feature

Using Artificial Intelligence for Your Trial Presentation

Kevin J. Doran
AI tools can take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks so trial preparation and the process of trials go more efficiently.

AI tools can take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks so trial preparation and the process of trials go more efficiently.

RG-vc via Getty Images

On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT. Within two months, ChatGPT gained more than 100 million users. This artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot impressed its users with its articulate and (often unsettling) human-like answers. The speed with which ChatGPT became so popular surprised even the engineers at OpenAI. Now, we can’t read any news source without hearing about AI. Major tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and others are developing their own AI products, and there is a surge in AI-based start-ups. Everyone wants to leverage this incredible technology for their industry, especially legal technology companies.

As a trial technology consultant, I stay current on all new technology developments that could help trial attorneys. AI tools take over repetitive and time-consuming tasks. With these force multipliers, trial preparation and the process of trials go more efficiently, which helps lawyers, staff, judges, and jurors. But as exciting as these tools may be, we cannot dive in without knowing how to use them.

I have some good news to get out of the way first: As it stands now, I do not believe any of these machines will replace all trial attorneys. A computer, even one as skilled as ChatGPT, cannot replicate the uniquely human characteristics of communication, storytelling, logic, law knowledge, and experience possessed by a competent litigator. However, with so many AI options available and more coming out every day, attorneys could easily make the wrong choices and end up with tools they do not really know how to use effectively. Conversely, they could use these tools incorrectly. This article will discuss the options on the market for potential use at trial and how to use these tools correctly and ethically. Use the information here as a jumping-off point for more research on these products before you adopt them in your practice.

General Tips for Adopting New Litigation Technology

Before even getting into AI, we should address some best practices for lawyers when adopting any piece of new technology. Jurors expect the attorney to know how to use the same devices they use. Judges expect technology to move trials along faster. And state bar associations expect lawyers either to know how to correctly use technology or to rely on someone who does. At the time of writing, 40 state bar associations have adopted the American Bar Association’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, Comment 8, which states, “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” By not investing sufficient time and resources to competently use new technological tools, you will only make things harder, embarrass yourself publicly and professionally, and potentially expose yourself to legal malpractice. You can avoid this fate with two words: time and practice.

Now that the stern instruction is over, let’s get to the fun AI tools.

ChatGPT and Large Language Models

The most popular AI tools for the general public fall into the category known as Generative AI (GenAI). GenAIs are powerful computers trained on massive amounts of specific data (text, sounds, images) so that they can understand it and learn how to generate new text, sounds, images, and whatever else. Most people have been exposed to large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT. ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, and it is a type of LLM. Simply put, LLMs are complex programs that take massive amounts of language data such as books, articles, and other media and can both understand and generate responses to prompts in words.

Before getting to possible uses, let’s disclaim ways that unwary lawyers can easily use LLMs incorrectly. People in all fields, not just lawyers, make the mistake of using ChatGPT like a search engine. Companies such as Google and Microsoft have developed their own LLMs to implement into their respective search engines with tools such as Bard and Bing AI, but OpenAI’s ChatGPT is not that. ChatGPT has one purpose: to respond to a prompt using words correctly.

LLMs routinely make up facts. They’re supposed to say things that sound right, not things that are objectively correct. This phenomenon is known as “hallucination,” and all LLMs do this. “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers,” according to an OpenAI blog post (Introducing ChatGPT, OpenAI (Nov. 30, 2022)). Hallucination got some attorneys into trouble. A couple of attorneys thought that ChatGPT could write a brief complete with Bluebook-style citations to precedent from various relevant court cases—except six of the cases and the legal precedent cited were completely made up. Opposing counsel tried to look them up, and the entire thing ended in the lawyers’ case being dismissed and the lawyers being sanctioned and becoming a national cautionary tale for the entire profession (Sara Merken, New York Lawyers Sanctioned for Using Fake ChatGPT Cases in Legal Brief, Reuters (June 26, 2023)).

Attorneys should also consider the ethical risks of giving a GenAI too much information. We train LLMs such as ChatGPT by submitting our own text to help it refine itself. This training helps LLMs learn how to sound more like a human when giving an answer. But what happens to the information we submit? That’s another one of those questions that we need a computer scientist to answer fully. But because you do not know where the information you put into it goes, you cannot be certain that submitting specific information, such as facts or dates relevant to your case, does not violate attorney-client privilege.

OpenAI has acknowledged the importance of these privacy issues. In April 2023, ChatGPT rolled out a limited “incognito mode” that turns off the history of users’ chats to the LLM. Per an OpenAI blog post, “When chat history is disabled, we will retain new conversations for 30 days and review them only when needed to monitor for abuse, before permanently deleting” (New Ways to Manage Your Data in ChatGPT, OpenAI (Apr. 25, 2023)).

Please note that under those terms, OpenAI will still record all conversations input to search for abuse, but they will not be used later and will be deleted. Thus, the disclosure of confidential information into ChatGPT, even in incognito mode, could violate privilege. OpenAI continues to refine its professional subscription terms to protect confidential information. Regardless, if lawyers use ChatGPT, they must anonymize the data submitted to avoid violating the duty of confidentiality. This is an ongoing issue in the legal technology world, so I strongly advise you to use caution and professional judgment in anonymizing the information you give to any GenAI, not just LLMs and ChatGPT.

How GenAI Can Help Prepare for Trial

All this being said, GenAI can be a fantastic force multiplier for any trial attorney. To grossly oversimplify this incredible technological advancement, ChatGPT is like a calculator for language instead of numbers, and we can all think of it in those terms. It can take a prompt written in natural language and respond by synthesizing long strings of text that follow the rules of grammar, spelling, and style, and the answers make conceptual sense to us humans. Do you know who else takes a lot of information and uses language to help humans understand that information? Trial lawyers.

Trial lawyers can effectively and correctly use ChatGPT and other LLMs in a variety of ways. Lawyers stuck on their opening can ask ChatGPT to refine what words they choose to say to the jury. If a trial contains complicated technical facts and terms, one could ask an LLM to simplify those facts in a way that is easy to understand. One very effective tool for any litigator is the use of metaphors. With the right prompts, ChatGPT can provide you with metaphors you can use throughout your case to help the jury understand your argument—especially if the argument arises from a highly technical fact. ChatGPT is also conversational, and you can ask it to take on an adversarial tone to assist you in honing your arguments. After years of living the facts from the client’s viewpoint, you can lose the forest for the trees and just not see the holes or weaknesses in your arguments. ChatGPT can help you practice by providing that objective opposing viewpoint before you get in front of the jury.

ChatGPT understands tone and style, and you can always get it to adopt certain parameters by just asking it. You can also ask it how to get a point across implicitly as opposed to explicitly. In this way, ChatGPT can help you word your arguments and questions in a way that does not run afoul of the rules of evidence or the rulings of the court.

Visual GenAI Tools

ChatGPT and other LLMs can help lawyers with what they say, but jurors expect visuals. GenAI tools can create demonstrative exhibits and visuals for litigators by using text-to-image models. OpenAI also developed a popular tool called DALL-E that takes text prompts, and instead of generating words, it generates an image. Other text-to-image models, such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, can generate images from text prompts. We will focus on GenAI presentation-based tools that can assist you in drafting, designing, and building visuals for entire presentation slide decks, possibly saving you and your trial team hours of tedious PowerPoint drafting.

Examples of GenAIs that do this include Beautiful.ai, Slidebean, SlidesAI, and Tome. Beautiful.ai, as an example, allows users to submit text-based prompts and generate a slideshow. Prompts can be anything, including asking for timelines, graphs and charts, pictures, or anything visual. Beyond that, Beautiful.ai generates the entire slide deck template, so you have consistency of style, color, and tone. Once slides are generated, you can export the deck as an editable PowerPoint file, PDF, or Google Sheets file. Lawyers can easily generate slides and graphics and export them as PowerPoints to finish adding the finer details, facts, and images in local PowerPoint programs. This workflow allows attorneys to effectively use the AI to get most of the legwork done while protecting attorneys from submitting any confidential information and violating privilege. It saves time and allows all attorneys, regardless of design skill level, to make persuasive and visually appealing presentations in time for opening statements and closing arguments. These presentation tools have massive libraries of colors, styles, graphics, and charts, and some even have image-generation capabilities.

Other Useful Legal AI Tools

The usefulness of GenAI to trial attorneys cannot be overstated. These tools can reduce hours of work to minutes. More and more AI tools are being developed strictly for use in all areas of law, such as e-discovery search automation, contract drafting, and case management. Aside from stand-alone AI products, services such as Google Workspace, Zoom, Microsoft Office, and many others have developed AI plug-ins and extras that leverage AI to do things such as automatically generating a written summary of your Zoom meeting, drafting your repetitive emails, and too many other tasks to summarize here.

In 2023, cloud-based legal research platform Casetext (now owned by Thomson Reuters) released CoCounsel, an “AI legal assistant.” CoCounsel uses ChatGPT along with actual legal databases of statutes and common law, so you can search it with natural language questions and get the kinds of information attorneys need. It can review documents, help you prepare for depositions, and help you perform and summarize legal research. As of March 2023, CoCounsel passed both the written and the multiple-choice versions of the Uniform Bar Exam. CoCounsel continues, rightly, to generate a lot of news, but it is just one of many products out there. LexisNexis developed Lexis+ AI, leveraging AI to augment research, summarization, and drafting. Outside of the major legal technology players, start-ups such as Paxton AI have been launched to help lawyers use AI to speed up their research process without the issue of hallucination. Westlaw, Lexis, and Paxton AI do not generate fake law and always provide a citation to the actual legal basis for their claims.

With all these options available, it is hard to navigate what tools best fit your own practice. A personal injury litigation firm has little need for a complex contract-drafting tool or a program that automates certain immigration filings. To find what fits best, attorneys must be proactive. Many tech companies offer demos or free trial periods. Additionally, lawyers can use services such as Legaltech Hub, which describes itself as a global directory of legal technology tools and services where “buyers of legal technology can research the legal tech they need to manage a 21st-century law firm or in-house department, vendors can showcase their solutions, and investors can understand the marketplace.” There are also many bloggers and legal technology content creators on LinkedIn, YouTube, and other platforms that review legal tech tools. Your fellow lawyers are also a great resource. Those early adopters can tell you what they liked and what they did not, not just about the product itself but also the company and support behind it.

It has never been more important for lawyers to understand how to add emerging technology into their law practice. We cannot avoid it, and it is seen as part of being a competent attorney. We should not be scared of AI but view it as a way to make us better lawyers. However, using these tools correctly requires doing a lot of work and dedicating time and money. To quote Richard Baldwin, an economist and professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute in Switzerland, “AI won’t take your job. It’s somebody using AI that will take your job.”

Entity:
Topic:
The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Kevin J. Doran

Legal Tech Chicago

Kevin J. Doran, Esq., LLM (Taxation), is the founder and senior consultant at Legal Tech Chicago. Based in Chicago, he is a former litigator turned litigation technology consultant, helping litigators nationwide solve any and all tech issues that arise during trials. Doran has worked as a trial technology consultant and “hot seater” for more than seven years.