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Highlight of the Issues

AI and the Legal Profession

Impact on the Practice of Law.  Consistent with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers must recognize that the widespread use and rapid evolution of AI products and capabilities raise significant issues for lawyers, law practices, and clients.

Ethical Issues for Attorneys. AI will raise complex and challenging ethical questions that implicate the principles of confidentiality, competence, practice management, and honesty. Lawyers could face potential risks of the unauthorized practice of law when using AI tools. Lawyers must understand the risks that AI can pose to client confidential data, and to inadvertently waiving attorney-client and attorney work product privileges.

Impact on the Courts and Judicial Systems.  AI is increasingly being used by judges in court administration, and in the criminal justice system. Judges are encountering legal issues with AI, and several courts have issued opinions raising concerns or imposing constraints on lawyers’ use of AI. AI will create challenges for the use of evidence in Court, such as to establish the trustworthiness and integrity of evidence.

AI and Access to Justice

AI can be used for the public good. AI offers the potential to scale solutions to reduce the justice gap. It could dramatically improve the efficiency of legal aid lawyers, allowing them to rely on AI for administrative tasks and serve many more clients more efficiently and effectively. It could make accurate, reliable, and understandable legal information readily available to people who don't have access to a lawyer. It could simplify court forms and processes. Its utility, however, will depend on its accuracy, its ability to preserve privacy and confidentiality, and its avoidance of biases.

AI Governance

Role of Regulations, Industry Standards, and Best Practices. A number of different entities, including governments, government agencies, industry groups, and individual companies are issuing laws, guidelines, standards and practices to govern the use of AI in order to minimize the risks associated with AI and promote the use of trustworthy, responsible, and ethical AI.

AI Challenges: Generative AI

Rapid advances in generative AI, a powerful type of AI that can use large language models to generate content, present challenges and risks as well as new opportunities. It is important for the legal profession to be aware of the safety concerns and other risks associated with generative AI, including privacy and cybersecurity risks, the generation of inaccurate content, and copyright infringement and other intellectual property issues.

AI and Legal Education

AI and machine learning (ML) systems and capabilities will transform virtually every industry sector and reallocate the tasks performed by humans and machines. AI will require lawyers and judges to understand how AI works, how it is developed and used, what advantages it can bring, the risks it can create, and the legal and ethical issues that will arise.

Law students should learn about the impact of AI on the legal profession, lawyers’ ethical obligations in the context of lawyers’ obligations to keep client information confidential, and employment obligations and reasonable measures that a lawyer should consider implementing to protect data.

To the extent law schools elect to put more emphasis on AI, they enable students to study key legal growth areas.

AI Risk Management

Identification of current and emerging AI risks is an essential step in determining how to mitigate them. AI risks include: (1) design and development risks such as cybersecurity, privacy, and bias, and (2) risks from the use of AI such as amplifying and spreading disinformation, undermining intellectual property (IP) protections, creating unfair trade practices, and perpetrating fraud.

AI and the Courts

AI increasingly is being used in court administration and the criminal justice system. Judges are encountering legal issues with AI, and several courts have issued opinions raising concerns or imposing constraints on lawyers’ use of AI. Deepfakes and AI are creating daunting challenges for the authentication and use of evidence in court, such as to establish the reliability and integrity of evidence.