Will AI Replace Lawyers? Nope!

July 6, 2023

AI technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, leading some to believe that it could replace certain professions and others to seek to use AI as a low cost solution. But when it comes to complex legal matters like divorce, AI isn’t likely to make a dent anytime soon. That’s because the court system relies on nuance, understanding of human emotions, and experience – all qualities that AI just doesn’t possess and is to likely never possess. There is no denying the fact that AI has tried to make progress into legal profession and has failed for the most part. An attorney tried to use AI to help him with a memo or brief to the court and copied what the AI wrote and relied on the cases the AI cited. What the attorney did not do was check the cases the AI cited. If he had, he would have learned that the writing was centered around made up cases. But the attorney did not, and was sanctioned as a result.


I tried a new product myself to help me with my legal research based on ChatGPT. When I did, I had a pretty good understanding of the cases supporting the question I asked and that did not support it. The tool was supposed to provide both sides of the issue. When confronted with a politically charged issue, it did not provide contrary cases, showing a bias towards the more socially acceptable position. But an attorney must acknowledge those cases, and in doing so, has an opportunity to explain to the court why those cases should not apply to the matter at hand. If I had only relied on the cases the AI tool found, I too would have been in a world of trouble. Luckily, I had a good understanding of both positions and did not rely blindly on the AI tool.


Before this, I had played around with ChatGPT. In doing so, I convinced ChatGPT I am a cat. If I return to that chat, it refers to me as its’ feline friend and asks me if I want to be petted. So on the non-practical side, it can be fooled. And no, I am not a cat.


To understand why AI can’t replace attorneys, let’s first look at how it works. Generally speaking, AI technology “learns” from large datasets and is able to complete tasks with minimal human input or supervision. This can be useful for simple tasks likeor researching a dataset – but it doesn’t work so well when you throw a curveball. For example, if an attorney’s client suddenly changes their story midway through a trial – something that happens more often than you’d think – the AI won’t know what to do because it cannot keep up with such unexpected changes in course or strategy. Nor does it work when the research is asking about a controversial topic, like gun control, reproductive access or First Amendment rights because it’s been programmed to disregard or discount one side’s arguments.


Another limitation of AI is its inability to understand emotions – a key component of successful legal advocacy. Even if an AI had access to all the facts about your case, there’s no guarantee it would be able to use those facts effectively without being able to interpret how people are feeling during different moments in your hearing or trial and how the judge is interpretting these emotions. And since every case is unique and requires specific strategies tailored for each individual situation – like how the judge applies certain facts and construes certain emotions – there’s really no way for an AI algorithm to effectively replicate this type of intuition anytime soon.


AI’s ability to help with legal research may someday be invaluable. It can quickly search through thousands of documents and pinpoint specific keywords or phrases – but only if it is programmed to rely on real cases and to reveal cases that are in apposition as well. AI can also help lawyers identify patterns or trends within opinions that may otherwise be difficult to spot. This knowledge can be used to make decisions about current cases or even anticipate how future cases may turn out, but at best, it can help the attorney make decisions. If, however, the AI does not consider both sides of the argument, the help it gives is worthless. This means that while an AI system may be able to identify certain trends or patterns within a set of data, it may not be able to interpret those results in light of a client’s individual situation or needs and certainly does not give the entire answer.


AI also fails when it comes to creative problem solving. Although AI can research with speed and precision, it cannot come up with creative solutions nor strategize on its own in order to achieve desired outcomes for a client or case. Nor does it reach good recommendations every time. It has been used to deny people medications because they have filled similar medications for their pet and suggested a professor fail a bunch of students for cheating. It is being used to deny people food stamps and health care coverage too.


A lawyer must have a good understanding of the law as well as an ability to think outside of the box in order to provide effective representation for their clients – something that AI lacks completely. AI cannot understand the nuances of a situation or emotions associated with it – which are essential elements when considering how best to resolve an issue in court. Dr. Grawitch argues that AI is best treated as a source of data to consider, but that AI should not replace human decisions (or professional ones) and that professionals should be the check or counterpoint to an AI-derived decision. Human decisions are not infallible and neither is AI – AI is trained on the outcome of thousands of human decisions and is just as fallible. And as I wrote above, its pre-programmed with biases, no different than our own.


In conclusion, it’s highly unlikely that attorneys will ever be replaced by AI. If AI cannot get decisions such as medications, failing students, or providing health care right, why should you trust it with your legal problem? If it all goes kerflewy you won’t have anyone you can sue to make you whole and you might make a national headline for trying it. AI technology still can’t match the expertise and experience of a skilled attorney who can provide personalized advice tailored specifically for each individual case. And it certainly cannot commisurate with you if you lose or celebrate with you if you win.


So if you want a real lawyer (and no, I am still not a cat) to help you through your case, one who will apply her nearly 20 years of legal education to your case, reach out. I would love to help you through your no-contest or agreed divorce in Madison County, St. Clair County, as well as the other counties in the metro-east. You can reach out through my contact page or call my office.