Artificial intelligence (AI) has surged onto the scene this year as a valuable tool for small businesses — including those in the legal profession. And lawyers, firm owners, entrepreneurs, and other professionals are jumping on board en masse.
In fact, a recent Forbes survey showed that 64% of all businesses believe that AI will increase productivity and improve customer relationships as well as boost sales (60%), save costs (59%), reduce response times (53%), and more.
With all these capabilities at your fingertips, knowing the tasks suitable for AI and when to steer clear is essential - especially in professions heavily relying on research and writing, such as law.
However, navigating AI in law requires a delicate approach, as evidenced by a cautionary tale involving two Manhattan attorneys. Personal injury lawyers Steven Schwartz and Peter LoDuca faced sanctions in June 2023 for including fictitious cases in a legal brief. Schwartz admitted to using OpenAI's ChatGPT for research but told a New York judge, “I did not comprehend that ChatGPT could fabricate cases.”
In case you weren't aware, AI writing assistants are smooth. So smooth, in fact, they can manufacture facts, dates, and court cases to the point of fooling seasoned lawyers into using make-believe court cases in litigation.
While the $5,000 fine imposed by a federal judge is hardly newsworthy, the incident prompted other legal rulings and highlighted the importance of using AI carefully — particularly in the legal profession.
At Levitate, we’re big fans of AI and have been integrating it into our platform since its inception. Having used it for years, we believe it’s a promising resource for busy business owners, but only if approached with eyes wide open, fully aware of its advantages and limitations.
To that end, here are some guidelines for when to fire up that AI writing assistant and when to rely on good old-fashioned human expertise.
E-discovery is the scanning of electronic information to obtain non-privileged details pertinent to a case or claim — and AI has been transforming the process for years. But as AI continues to develop, it’s set to further revolutionize how legal experts think about data analysis and review.
And for good reason.
Almost instantaneously, AI-powered e-discovery software can analyze massive amounts of data, understand and interpret multiple languages, automate audio transcription, perform “emotional tone” analysis on social media posts, emails, or other text-based documents, and more.
While ChatGPT isn’t the most accurate platform for detailed legal research (ahem, see above), there are sophisticated tools that harness AI to double- and triple-check memos and briefs for accuracy, including LexisNexis, Casetext’s CARA AI Technology, ROSS Intelligence, and Westlaw Edge.
Aside from e-discovery and research, AI writing assistants can generate first drafts of all types of content, saving time for you and your clients as you pull together presentations, blog posts, keynote speeches, or other in-office communication.
The key phrase here? First drafts. Regardless of your profession or the purpose for which you use AI assistants, mindlessly copying and pasting any AI-generated text is never a good idea. Every word and every sentence requires careful review to ensure your AI assistant hasn’t smooth-talked you.
It’s also helpful to remember that specific prompts yield superior outputs, so when using AI, provide as much detail as possible. Here are a few prompts to get you started:
The best way to learn AI is to dive in, start using it, and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Share what you’ve discovered with one another, and keep practicing until you refine your prompt-writing skills.
While AI offers advantages, it's necessary to recognize its limitations. To maximize its benefits without compromising the integrity of your legal practice, here are a few times when it’s best to limit your use of AI:
AI should be used to support your work, not to replace it altogether. Attorneys are still responsible for reviewing and approving all documents generated by AI before passing them on to clients or submitting them to the courts.
As Judge P. Kevin Castel said in his ruling about the above-mentioned case, “Technological advances are commonplace, and there is nothing inherently improper about using a reliable artificial intelligence tool for assistance,” Castel wrote. “But existing rules impose a gatekeeping role on attorneys to ensure the accuracy of their filings.”
Lawyers are responsible for protecting sensitive client information, so it's critical to use discretion when interacting with AI tools that rely on data input.
Even though AI privacy issues have yet to be fully resolved, attorneys with a duty to protect clients' data should play it conservatively and never put a client's personal information into an AI chat that others could potentially access.
Law Office Today's writer, Kendra Brodin, presents a compelling case on an often overlooked aspect of law practice that AI cannot replicate: Emotional intelligence.
She explains: “The terms EQ (emotional intelligence) and emotional regulation might send some attorneys skidding right out of the room. Many of us are more comfortable with facts and figures than feelings. However, as a lawyer, you counsel clients in high-stress situations and help them work through intense feelings. Those messy emotions do not impede your work; they are the work. There are no neat, tidy boxes for separating feelings and the job. To excel at one, you must embrace the other.”
AI is a fantastic tool, but it cannot understand emotional nuances and interpersonal dynamics, making it ineffective and far too superficial for advocacy, negotiations, or courtroom arguments.
These tasks require empathy, intuition, and persuasive communication skills solely suited for a team of astute and engaged human lawyers and associates.
There’s no question that AI is a powerful tool for legal professionals, but it must be used judiciously. While it excels in analyzing large amounts of data and carrying out administrative tasks, human expertise remains irreplaceable for complex legal matters, critical business communication, and human connection.
At Levitate, we understand the role of AI in empowering small businesses in their communication efforts. Utilizing our AI-powered software and writing assistant, our legal clients can personalize outreach at scale, identify client relationships that need nurturing, rewrite or translate templates, and create social media posts and emails in seconds.
Our AI tool complements your expertise, not replaces it, turning happy clients into loyal advocates.
Additionally, when teaming up with Levitate, you'll gain access to a dedicated success specialist who can help strategize and create content that builds relationships with your network.
Please reach out if you have any further questions or would like to learn more about how we can benefit your law firm or small business. We'd love to chat with you.