By Kristen Baginski and Celeste Pometto DiNicola
The commercial launch of ChatGPT just one year ago brought artificial intelligence out of the category of futuristic technologies with vague applications and directly into Americans’ living rooms for the here and now. We slowly began to recognize the extraordinary potential of AI in our day-to-day lives as consumers, students and knowledge workers.
But most legal professionals were caught off-guard back in March when the next iteration of the software, GPT-4, passed the Uniform Bar Examination, including not only the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination but also the open-ended Multistate Essay Exam and Multistate Performance Test components.
Now the next shoe has dropped. On November 16, Law360 reported the results of a new level of advancement in the legal industry when they revealed that GPT-4 (and another AI model, Claude 2) passed the Multistate Professionals Exam (MPRE). The MPRE, which tests lawyers on principles of legal ethics, is required for admission to the bar in nearly all U.S. jurisdictions. In fact, researchers found that ChatGPT passed the exam “with a grade surpassing the average for human law students.”
AI in Law Schools
AI has arrived at the doorstep of the legal profession so it is incumbent on law schools to adapt by incorporating AI into their curriculum and environments. This means embracing the power of AI as its use becomes more ubiquitous, but also taking the time to understand its limitations and risks in the practice of law.
We recently co-presented a webinar for legal professionals, “AI Goes to Law School,” in which we unpacked some of the specific ways in which we believe that legal education will be impacted by the emergence of AI tools in the industry.
For starters, it’s important to understand that AI is already being used in law schools because each of the major legal research platforms incorporate AI into their offerings. For example, LexisNexis began work in this area in 2017 and we offer a number of products, such as Context and Lex Machina, which rely on the power of machine learning technology to deliver fast and accurate results. These are powered by “extractive” AI models that are trained to recognize patterns and make predictions in order to retrieve the most relevant information from a specific volume of data, then make connections between related documents.
Generative AI models — such as ChatGPT — are different because they are designed to actually create new content in the form of images, text, audio and more. As exciting as this sounds, there are important limitations for lawyers with the current version of commercially available generative AI tools. So how do you embrace the power of AI technology while navigating the complex ethical issues created by their use? Part of the answer is to seek out AI tools that have been specifically created, developed and trained for use in the practice of law. More about that later.
AI Integration into Law School Courses
We envision three specific areas in which AI will be integrated into law school curriculum lineups:
- Doctrinal Courses
AI will be a new asset for legal education in both core disciplines and specific areas of legal practice. Law students will soon be actual lawyers so there will be an expectation that those students can use relevant legal AI tools to be efficient and effective practitioners. This means teaching students how to use AI to support critical thinking and evaluation, collaboration and communication, assessment and feedback. It will also involve more specific instruction for how AI will impact the law in narrow fields such as privacy and data protection, intellectual property, healthcare, criminal law and other practice areas.
- Legal Research and Writing Courses
AI will have a profound impact on how law schools teach students to conduct thorough, on-point legal research — as well as how they cultivate the skills needed to generate drafts of legal memos, briefs, pleadings and motions. LexisNexis is focused in this area, working on the development of responsible legal AI tools that will support more efficient legal research and document drafting.
- AI Courses
Finally, law schools will need to ramp up their capabilities to provide instruction to students on the topic of AI itself so that future lawyers have a grasp of the way the technology works. Early examples include Harvard Law School’s Initiative on Artificial Intelligence and the Law and Vanderbilt Law School’s recently announced AI Legal Lab.
The LexisNexis Solution
For legal practitioners, the emergence of AI tools represents both an exciting realm of opportunity and a sober time for caution. Ultimately, AI should never “replace” a lawyer as a counselor who is exercising sound and independent legal judgment to represent a client. LexisNexis has been leading the way in the development of legal AI tools for years, working to provide lawyers with products that leverage the power of AI technology to support key legal tasks.
With the rollout of Lexis+ AI, we’re now pioneering the use of generative AI for legal research, analysis and the presentation of results, with a focus on how these tools can enable legal professionals to achieve better outcomes. We are integrating our unsurpassed LexisNexis content database into Lexis+ AI to provide more precise parameters around what the AI engine draws upon when providing legal information.
For more information about these AI-powered solutions and how they can responsibly support the practice of law, visit www.lexisnexis.com/ai.