By applying lessons learned from remote work during the pandemic and dealing with the increased use of artificial intelligence, today’s law students are poised to have a profound impact on the practice of law, ABA President Mary Smith said during a visit to University of Tulsa College of Law on August 30.
“We did a survey about a year ago, and particularly for younger lawyers, over 40% said that they would leave a job if they did not have flexibility to work virtually,” she said. “So I think, looking out at all of you, that you will have the ability to change the practice of law. And the other piece, I think that’s also very much going to impact the practice of law, is the ascent of artificial intelligence.”
Smith created the ABA Task Force on Law and Artificial Intelligence to tackle the legal and ethical implications of using services such as ChatGPT. She told students the U.S. is already behind other countries in addressing lawyers’ and judges’ use of artificial intelligence.
Smith said it’s an honor to serve as the first Native American female president of the ABA, and she wants to visit as many law schools as possible in the coming year to show students that “there’s something at the ABA” for them. She encouraged the students to “soak up as much as you can” from a wide variety of practice areas while in law school.
When asked about building a culture that is respectful of the rule of law, Smith pointed to another of her initiatives, the ABA Task Force for American Democracy. She mentioned seeing “scary statistics” from a study showing that over one third of millennials don’t think it’s important to live in a democratic society. “I mean, think about that.”
The trip also included a meeting with local tribal leaders and a visit to the Greenwood Rising history center in downtown Tulsa, which commemorates the 1921 racial massacre that targeted Black residents.