Navigating the New Frontier: The Ethics and Potential of AI in Legal Practice
Thursday, May 9, 2024
by: Jason Primuth, Lexitas

Section: Spring 2024

Attorneys are stewards of a proud tradition of justice and fairness, but we also must remain on the cutting edge of technological advancements. One such advancement, Artificial Intelligence (AI), has increasingly become a topic of both enthusiasm and caution in the legal industry. Let's explore some key insights and considerations regarding the ethics of AI in legal practice.

Understanding AI and Its Legal Applications

Artificial Intelligence is transforming virtually every part of our lives … including the way we practice law. From automating routine tasks in client intake and legal research to assisting in complex document review and legal marketing, AI is reshaping how legal professionals work. AI has been trained to streamline and accelerate tasks that attorneys have been doing for eons. These new technologies can improve litigation efficiency, enhance accuracy by identifying patterns, and even compare documents to find potential issues. However, as Noah Waisberg, co-author of "AI for Lawyers," warns, "If you are a lawyer who is not using this stuff, your opponents are... For most people, it’s going to give them an edge, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t take an edge."

Ethical Considerations and Risks

While AI's benefits are clear, it's crucial to recognize its ethical implications and risks. Concerns such as AI 'hallucinations' (generating incorrect or misleading information), privacy issues, and overconfidence in AI outputs are real. Nearly every week, we hear about other attorneys who use ChatGPT to write their pleadings without ever checking the cases that it cites.

Compliance with ABA Rules and Standards

Adopting AI in legal practice isn't just a matter of technological capability; it's also a matter of ethics and compliance. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct emphasize the importance of competence, diligence, and confidentiality – values that extend to the use of new technologies like AI. Regardless of what new technology comes along, attorneys are still bound by the ABA model rules for competence, diligence, and confidentiality as well as rule 11 of the FRCB. Those rules of ethics and integrity still apply.

Building Trust and Ensuring Security

Building trust in AI involves clear communication about its usage, data handling, and interpretation of results. Legal technology providers, such as Lexitas, address these concerns by keeping data in encrypted private clouds and optimizing AI applications to avoid errors like hallucinations.

Conclusion: A Balancing Act

As we explore the frontiers of AI in law, we must balance the benefits of innovation with ethical considerations and professional responsibilities. The presence of new technology doesn't replace the need for sound judgment and adherence to ethical standards. In our role as legal professionals, it is crucial to embrace and adeptly navigate the continuously evolving technological landscape with both enthusiasm and prudence.
Jason Primuth, Chief Innovation Officer, Lexitas

As a legal industry technology executive, Jason Primuth brings broad experience in court reporting technology. Prior to his role at Lexitas, Jason was the General Manager of RealLegal and the Vice President of Sales at LiveNote, Inc. which included LiveNote software and West Court Reporting Services, the court reporting division of Thomson Reuters.