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Law Practice Magazine

The TECHSHOW Issue

AI as a Second Brain: Empowering Legal Professionals with Generative AI

Becka Rich and Jennifer Wondracek

Summary

  • There are many ways generative AI can assist overtaxed and/or neurodiverse attorneys with executive function.
  • This article looks at three types of GAI tools: mainstream chatbots, skill-specific tools, and neurodiversity-focused tools.
  • Knowing what your AI system is expecting as a prompt is key to getting helpful results.
AI as a Second Brain: Empowering Legal Professionals with Generative AI
iStock.com/alanphillips

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a part of legal electronic products for decades, with Lexis and Westlaw incorporating early forms in the late 1990s. However, AI only entered mainstream legal discussion following OpenAI's release of generative AI (GAI) chatbot ChatGPT in November 2022. This event marked a significant evolution in AI, making terms like AI and ChatGPT household names within a year.

Lawyers quickly adapted to this technology, but not without challenges. An early attempt to use ChatGPT for legal research by two attorneys resulted in a mishap, as seen in Mata v. Avianca, Inc., where the chatbot provided nonexistent case references. This spurred legal tech companies to develop AI tools tailored for legal research, aiming to avoid such errors. However, general GAI tools like ChatGPT still offer value in various non-research tasks, such as drafting short documents, enhancing grammar[JW1] [AG2]  and assisting those with cognitive or memory challenges, including neurodiverse individuals. These tools act as a “second brain” for attorneys who are experiencing temporary or permanent executive function hiccups. This article aims to spark a discussion on the ethical use of such AI applications in legal writing.

The Concept of AI as a Second Brain

Executive function is the part of our brains that helps us with organization, task management, task breakdown, flexibility, working memory, planning and prioritization, emotional control, and impulse control. This typically presents as trouble with word finding, difficulty with organization or poor task management. Using GAI with effective iterative prompting allows lawyers with executive dysfunction to be successful. We consider this using GAI as a second brain.

Profiling Three Key Types of General Generative AI Tools

This article examines three types of GAI tools: mainstream chatbots, organizational tools and multifunction tools for neurodiverse individuals. Key features and considerations for each are discussed below.

Type 1: Mainstream Generative AI Chatbots

Although everyone has heard of ChatGPT, it is only one of the mainstream GAI chatbots, which also include Anthropic’s Claude 2, Microsoft’s Bing Chat and Google’s Bard. While each have unique features, there are some common features that are especially important for attorneys to pay attention to when selecting a system. These features include:

  • Privacy and confidentiality. It's crucial to understand how these tools use your data. For instance, ChatGPT uses chat data for training unless opted out, while Claude 2 does not use chat data for training. Please read the terms of service in full before selecting a system.
  • Prompt field limit. Larger prompt fields accommodate more detailed queries, allowing you to give more detail and context to legal documentation.
  • File upload capabilities. Useful for querying, analyzing and summarizing legal documents.
  • Internet access. Necessary for accessing up-to-date information. ChatGPT 3.5 still does not know that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade.
  • App accessibility. Because sometimes you need access on the go.
  • Content ownership. Clarify if you own or license the content created by the AI. Some of the GAI companies have begun offering to defend copyright lawsuits for enterprise users.

The chatbots act like an assistant, which is especially helpful when you need extra capacity. Chatbots can help you with tasks such as initial drafting, brainstorming, grammar checks, document revision, mail merging, etc. The systems are especially useful when you are exhausted and struggling with fraying executive function. Deciding whether to send an email or sleep on it? ChatGPT can tell you if your email is too snarky or help you make a demand letter more aggressive.

One of the authors, Jenny, found ChatGPT invaluable after a concussion impaired her memory and processing speed. Jenny found that words she had been using throughout her 20-year career in the legal field were suddenly just out of reach. With proper prompting, ChatGPT offered up relevant options that were written in a professional, formal tone.

Type 2: Strategic Efficiency Skills Focused Generative AI

Busy or neurodivergent lawyers need tools designed to help them organize and capture information to complete complex tasks such as trial preparation or case management.

Notion.ai is a flexible multifunction tool that allows the user to organize information and tasks in the way most helpful to the person. Notion notebooks can be used for diverse forms of content including video and text and users can use GAI to organize that content. This could be helpful for putting together the story of a case or presenting to a client or partner.

Tiimo is a visual planner designed specifically for neurodiverse users. Tiimo will let you add a task or routine, which is a set of discrete activities that typically happen together in the same order such as e-filing. Tiimo will then show a visual timer for each task to help the user better envision the amount of time available for the task and how much of that time is remaining. A lawyer with ADHD time-blindness might find this useful during oral arguments or meetings with clients.

Type 3: Neurodiversity-Focused Generative AI

Neurodiversity GAI tools are designed to help those with diverse neurological needs manage writing challenges. These range from slower language processing to “blank screen paralysis”—the anxiety of starting tasks. This article cannot explore all the potential issues a neurodiverse attorney may face, so we will focus on tasks highlighted by goblin.tools, which assists with organizing and providing context when your brain feels too overloaded.

Goblin.tools offers a suite of six practical tools, available for free online and for a minimal fee on iOS and Android. These tools cater to various aspects of legal work and daily life. The site's main attractions are Magic ToDo, Formalizer, Judge, Estimator, Compiler and the popular nonlegal tool, Chef.

Magic ToDo is ideal for managing overwhelming tasks when you do not know where to begin. It breaks down complex tasks into manageable steps, even offering further sub-steps for detailed planning. For example, it can dissect the process of writing a legal motion into steps like researching legal requirements, drafting the motion and attending hearings. Compiler assists with the opposite issue, organizing the too-full mind into coherent task lists through a brain dump process. Formalizer adjusts writing to different tones, and Judge analyzes the existing tone, providing detailed feedback. Estimator predicts task durations based on user focus and expertise, integrating with Magic ToDo.

Lastly, the nonlegal tool, Chef, is a versatile culinary tool, especially for busy professionals like attorneys. It suggests meal options based on available ingredients, dietary needs and desired kitchen equipment. As I write this, I have a Chef-inspired Italian sausage, kale and white bean stew cooking away in the crockpot.

Honorable Mention: Pi.ai

Pi.ai is Becka’s favorite tool for rubberducking––a practice that started in information technology companies that involves talking to an inanimate object to figure out how to solve a thorny issue. Pi.ai can be used with short, conversation prompts to figure out which task comes next in a sequence, how to get out of a cranky or unproductive mood or to think through a legal argument.

Crafting Effective Prompts for Executive Function Aid

As with any other research or legal question, the key to getting the best results from a GAI tool is asking the right question, also known as putting in the right prompt. While GAI will give you results that might or might not be helpful when you put in short and sweet prompts, this is not the way to get high-quality, useful results.

After understanding the best practices and expected format of the tool, the next step is for the prompter to understand what they want the outcome provided by the tool to look like. The more detail and specificity you put into the prompt, the more likely it is that the tool will be able to provide a reliable, detailed outcome.

It is also helpful to your desired outcome to provide examples and context to the GAI tool. What does that look like in the executive function context.

Planning for a March 22 Motion for Summary Judgement

Planning for a March 22 Motion for Summary Judgement

Becka Rich & Jenny Wondracek

Calendar with Tasks and Deadlines

Calendar with Tasks and Deadlines

Becka Rich & Jenny Wondracek

In conclusion, AI, particularly GAI, emerges as a powerful ally for individuals dealing with executive function challenges. Whether acting as a second brain, aiding in organization and time management or providing tailored solutions for neurodiverse individuals, AI tools offer versatility and efficiency. While privacy considerations and tool familiarity are crucial, the integration of AI in the legal field opens new avenues for enhanced productivity.

This article merely scratches the surface of the vast landscape of AI applications in the legal realm. For a more in-depth exploration, the upcoming ABA TECHSHOW 2024 session, AI as a Second Brain: Empowering Legal Professionals with Generative AI, promises detailed insights, examples and practical demonstrations. As the legal community adapts to the evolving AI landscape, understanding ethical and effective AI use remains paramount.

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