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June 25, 2023 4 minutes to read ∙ 800 words

TAPAs: Using ChatGPT to Help Prepare for Trial

By Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene

Trial attorneys face immense pressure to efficiently and effectively prepare and present their cases in the courtroom. While preparation may not seem like a trial presentation skill, it underlies and serves as the foundation for the successful employment of all trial presentation skills. The advent of advanced language models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT has opened up new avenues for attorneys to streamline their trial-related tasks. ChatGPT can function well in the legal arena; the most recent iteration of ChatGPT, ChatGPT-4, has even passed a bar exam, scoring in the top 90th percentile.

Embracing the potential of advanced language models such as ChatGPT can revolutionize the way trial attorneys approach their practice, potentially leading to more efficient and effective trial representation. By utilizing ChatGPT for legal research, document organization, mock trial preparation, case strategy development, and persuasive argumentation, trial attorneys can optimize their performance and increase their chances of achieving favorable outcomes for their clients. 

Tip 1. Use ChatGPT to Assist You in Effectively Completing Legal Research

Comprehensive research and analysis are crucial to developing your case. Attorneys can ask ChatGPT complex legal questions, seek clarifications on statutes and precedents, and obtain concise summaries of relevant legal concepts. By utilizing ChatGPT’s vast knowledge base, trial attorneys can quickly gather crucial information and insights that assist in developing their case strategy. Online legal databases often employ similar technology to assist you in searching them. ChatGPT can help you refine a legal research query to pose to your database. By utilizing ChatGPT’s ability to navigate complex legal information, trial attorneys can conduct comprehensive research, identify key precedents, and strengthen their arguments.

Tip 2. Use ChatGPT to Assist You in Document Review and Organization

Trial attorneys often have to manage a substantial quantity of documents, including pleadings, evidence, discovery documents, and transcripts. ChatGPT can assist in organizing and reviewing these documents effectively. Attorneys can upload documents to ChatGPT and utilize its natural language processing capabilities to extract key information, identify relevant passages, and categorize documents based on topics or themes. This feature enables attorneys to locate crucial evidence and create an organized repository for quick reference during trial. Attorneys can also use ChatGPT to identify inconsistencies, review contracts, spot key details in voluminous documents, and summarize complex information. By leveraging ChatGPT’s language processing capabilities, trial attorneys can streamline the document management process and enhance their case organization.

Tip 3. Use ChatGPT to Simulate a Mock Trial

Mock trials have proven valuable for testing case theories, analyzing witness testimony, and identifying potential weaknesses in arguments. Conducting a mock trial in the traditional way generally has proven cost prohibitive except in very large cases. ChatGPT can assist trial attorneys by creating what you might call “mock trial light,” which lacks the drama of the true mock trial but avoids the expense associated with it. Attorneys can present arguments to ChatGPT and have it give feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their presentations. This interactive process can help trial attorneys anticipate challenges and prepare responses to anticipated challenges. ChatGPT can simulate a jury’s or judge’s perspective. ChatGPT can give feedback on the persuasiveness of the arguments, the clarity of the language, and the overall effectiveness of the presentation. This feedback can aid attorneys in identifying areas for improvement and enhancing their trial presentation.

Tip 4. Use ChatGPT as a Brainstorming Tool to Generate Ideas and Refine Your Case Strategy

Trial attorneys strive to deliver compelling and persuasive presentations. ChatGPT can provide language assistance and refine the clarity and persuasiveness of legal arguments. Attorneys can seek suggestions for structuring arguments, identifying key points, and creating compelling narratives. By leveraging ChatGPT’s language expertise, trial attorneys can enhance the persuasiveness of their arguments and improve their chances of success in the courtroom.

Tip 5. Use ChatGPT to Help You Refine Presentation Materials, Develop Persuasive Statements, and Enhance Your Delivery Style

Trial attorneys strive to make a compelling and persuasive presentation in the courtroom. Attorneys can use ChatGPT to assist them in generating persuasive opening statements and closing arguments, crafting impactful visual aids, and practicing their delivery style. ChatGPT can provide valuable insights, helping trial attorneys optimize their presentations for maximum impact.

Caveat Emptor

A word of warning (or at least a caution): While ChatGPT can function as a valuable assistant, ethical concerns have resulted in restrictions on its use in some locations. Make sure your use complies with any applicable restrictions in your area. Additionally, practical issues necessitate that you accompany the use of ChatGPT with your own expertise and vigilance respecting the accuracy of the information provided. Verify that the information generated by ChatGPT is factual and that any case or statute referenced by ChatGPT actually supports the proposition for which ChatGPT cited it.

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Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the American Bar Association (particularly in the GPSolo and Senior Lawyers Divisions), the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Senior Technology Editor of GPSolo magazine and the GPSolo eReport and continues to serve as a member of both magazines’ Editorial Boards. He also serves as an editor and the technology columnist for Experience magazine. A frequent speaker on technology topics, he is a former member of the ABA Standing Committee on Information Technology and the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal. He coauthored (with Ashley Hallene) Technology Solutions for Today’s Lawyer (2013) and iPad for Lawyers: The Tools You Need at Your Fingertips (2013). In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He may be reached at [email protected].

Ashley Hallene ([email protected]) is an attorney and land manager with Demeter Renewable in Houston, Texas, and is Editor-in-Chief of the GPSolo eReport. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and has published articles on legal technology in GPSolo magazine, the GPSolo eReport, and the TechnoLawyer Newsletter. Ashley is an active member of the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, the ABA Young Lawyers Division, and the Senior Lawyers Division.

Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 12, Number 11, June 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.