Will artificial intelligence put lawyers out of business?

In the year 2029, the human race faces extinction and annihilation at the hands of their own creation, a machine powered by a self-aware artificial intelligence (AI) program called Skynet. This is how the plot of “Terminator”, the hit film by Arnold Schwarzenneger from the 80s, goes.

In the film, surviving humans formed a resistance against Skynet and the machines. Their plan was to destroy the company that developed the AI ​​to prevent Skynet from being created in the first place.

When the film was released, the concept that machines could be self-aware was a far-fetched idea and simply a figment of the author’s imagination. Fast forward to the present, and the notion that machines with artificial intelligence might soon be able to operate autonomously using their own awareness and understanding is no longer such a far-fetched possibility.

The question now seems not to be whether this will happen, but when.

In the field of law, there are developments related to AI that can lead to significant shifts in traditional legal practice.

Late last year, San Francisco-based OpenAI made its latest creation, the ChatGPT chatbot, available for free public testing. Social media is full of examples of people trying out the AI ​​chatbot and directing it to write poetry, essays and the like.

The AI ​​has received hundreds of terabytes worth of training data, most likely sourced from the internet, so it has most likely read almost everything ever published online.

A news article reported that the Dean of Suffolk University Law School, Andrew Perlman, set a speed record for writing a 14-page legal article: one hour.

Dean Perlman commissioned ChatGPT to prepare a brief to the United States Supreme Court on why his same-sex marriage decision should not be overturned, and provided this response:

“The decision of the court in Obergefell v. Hodges is firmly rooted in the principle of equality before the law. The Constitution guarantees all people equal protection under the law, and this includes the right to marry the person of their choice. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry would be a clear violation of this principle.”


The bot further notes that Obergefell “concurs with a long body of precedent establishing the fundamental right to marry. In Loving v. Virginia, the Court held that marriage is one of “the fundamental civil rights of man” and that the right to marry is protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.”

Dean Perlman notes that it’s a pretty solid effort, but it doesn’t measure up to the Supreme Court attorneys. (https://www.reuters.com/legal/transactional/will-chatgpt-make-lawyers-obsolete-hint-be-afraid-2022-12-09/)

A few days ago, a report titled “Robot Lawyer” was released to present arguments in the world’s first AI-powered court case in February. It was said that an AI will bring the first-ever legal case to court in February this year, in a case about a speeding ticket. The defendant will have an iPhone and a handset where the AI ​​will give the user the appropriate answers to the arguments during the hearing. The location of the court and the name of the accused were not disclosed to ensure a controlled environment for the experiment, the report added.

The AI ​​application was developed by the consumer protection organization DoNotPay, which developed this algorithm to help users avoid fines, fees and subscriptions

“The DoNotPay app is home to the world’s first robot lawyer,” she boasts. “Fight corporations, beat bureaucracy and sue anyone at the touch of a button.”

The creator of the AI ​​application announced that he would like to see his app become good enough to replace a lawyer, but at a much lower cost.

According to the report, “It’s all about the language, and for that lawyers charge hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour,” he said. “There will still be a lot of good lawyers out there maybe arguing before the European Court of Human Rights, but a lot of lawyers are just charging way too much money for copying and pasting documents and I think they will definitely be replaced, and they should be replaced.” (https://www.techspot.com/news)

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As an experiment, I personally tried chatGPT and asked it to write a collection letter for a customer for an unhonored check and the result is as follows:

Similar to Dean Perlman’s observation, the letter is not complete and needs to be finalized
and sending such a letter would be a disservice to the customer. However, the draft of the letter did

It is noteworthy that ChatGPT was able to compose the collection letter in less than a minute
and the result is at least grammatically correct and put together in a meaningful way. A
A new lawyer would definitely take more than a few seconds to compose the same letter.

A worthwhile observation as there would be a partner in a law firm
instructions to an employee, it is important that the instructions given to the AI ​​are clear and understandable, as these can affect the quality of the delivered result or written work product. When using ChatGPT and perhaps interacting with other AIs, the key is asking the right questions and providing the appropriate instructions. The prompts must be given in a way that the AI ​​understands and is able to search, combine, and formulate the answer or work product correctly.

Note that like other AI programs, chatGPT seems to continually learn and improve through feedback and usage. Some call this machine learning. Simply put, the more people use it, the better it gets.

We must then expect continuous, perhaps significant, improvements in the quality of ChatGPT’s output over time. After all, it is still in the testing and learning phase.

Lawyers’ jobs in the Philippines are secure for now, according to the Philippine Constitution
provides that the pursuit of all professions in the Philippines is restricted to Filipino
Citizens, except in cases required by law, and lawyers practicing in the Philippines
Filipino citizens. (Section 14, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution)

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However, we must acknowledge this AI technology when deployed and exploited in the field
of law, can help law firms to be much more efficient. Drafting of documents and pleadings that
currently taking hours or even days can be completed in minutes.

While it doesn’t look like AI will replace lawyers any time soon, technology will
certainly have important implications for legal practice and the legal profession. Already,
There are law firms abroad that have invested in machine learning and some form of AI that
Perform tasks such as reviewing documents, legal research and assisting with due diligence or
Document heavy work so attorneys have more time to perform other high-level functions, such as
B. negotiating business, advising clients and appearing in court.

One thing I can predict, however, is that lawyers and law firms will not keep up
The times and acceptance of technology and the coming role of AI in legal practice can be sad
become obsolete.

(The author, Atty. John Philip C. Siao, is a practicing attorney and founding partner of Tiongco
Siao Bello & Associates Law Offices, teaches law at the MLQU School of Law and is an arbitrator
the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines. He can be contacted
at [email protected] The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author.)

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