NEW YORK (PIX11) — You can ask it anything — so why not ask it for some legal advice?
ChatGPT, and artificial intelligence more broadly, is already changing the way lawyers operate. However, people who need legal services might soon benefit — but to what extent remains an open question.
PIX11’s Henry Rosoff tried to solicit legal advice from ChatGPT for basic everyday things that people unfortunately deal with, such as a car accident or divorce or business disagreement.
First some background:
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot that can have human-like texting conversations with people. It does this because of the open artificial technology working in the background has been trained to give responses by studying around 500 billion tokens. Those are bits of writings by humans throughout history.
Despite all that “studying,” ChatGPT did not seem to want to represent Rosoff in a court of law — consistently communicating that getting a real lawyer would be advisable.
So PIX11 News paid a visit to the CUNY School of Law to speak with two lawyers: Natalie Gomez-Velez and Joe Rosenberg, who joined via Zoom.
Gomez-Velez was somewhat relieved ChatGPT was so cautious.
“Any endeavor that is going to bring you to needing a lawyer, you should really have the judgement of human being who is trained in this,” she said.
Together the law professors explained how ChatGPT may be good at giving some basic information about a legal matters, but Rosenberg said he wants people and lawyers in particular to understand how this stuff works.
“AI is digesting in the United States 400 years of history,” he said. “So it can’t help but incorporate our history of slavery, genocide of indigenous people, and all kids of biases.”
This is not to say ChatGPT is not already changing how the legal profession operates, particularly when it comes to research. Gomez-Velez said she is already teaching young lawyers to think about how to use it responsibly.
“What are you going to bring to the table that adds value when you can plug into ChatGPT some of the question and get some of the answer right,” Gomez-Velez said.
Rosenberg also said the AI has great potential to create and point people to legal documents they might otherwise have trouble accessing, such as information about housing, bankruptcy, estate planning or taking care of an aging loved one.
“We have tools where someone can say we need a guardian for a person, and you put in information, and it generates those documents and instructions for filing those documents,” Rosenberg said.
During the conversation with Rosoff, ChatGPT did seem confident that at some point in the future there would be chatbots that could offer more tailored criminal legal advice.
Andrew Perlman, dean of the Suffolk University Law school, penned the paper “The Implications of ChatGPT for Legal Services and Society” for Harvard’s bimonthly magazine The Practice. He said there will always be a need for in-person representation, especially in the world of criminal law.
Perlman said what is more likely is we are headed into a world where lawyers work with these tools, and those are the ones you’ll want on your side.
“This is not technology versus lawyers,” he said. “This is lawyers who use technology versus lawyers who don’t, and the lawyers who use technology are going to have an advantage because they can produce information and services that clients need better, faster and cheaper.”