The Rise of AI in Legal Proceedings
Recently, I’ve keenly observed the evolution of AI, particularly the advancements in with large language models like Chat GPT, as reported in Family and Children Law cases within the Law Society Gazette.
Many colleagues have shared their experiences, and numerous cases have been documented in the periodicals and journals. It is broadly accepted that AI, primarily serving as a language tool, has streamlined many legal tasks. This not only enhances work efficiency but can also reduce client costs if billable hours are central to one’s practice.
However, AI is Not Without Its Flaws
Various reported instances highlight the potential pitfalls of over-relying on AI in Family Law. A notable incident occurred in the UK when a Litigant in Person (LiP) inaccurately cited case law after seeking assistance from Chat GPT. This inaccuracy was later discovered by the opposing barrister and the court. Similarly, lawyers in the US were taken to a disciplinary hearing for using Chat GPT after it was found that six of their cited cases were non-existent.
The Need for Human Oversight
In another case, a query regarding UK Family Law procedures revealed inaccuracies in an AI-generated response. The AI lacked insights into the latest legislation and nuances tailored to the client’s unique situation. There was also an instance where a lawyer’s minimal involvement in a DIY will was flagged as problematic by a judge. The online template resulted in the client’s wishes being disregarded during probate.
Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls, articulated a balanced view on AI’s role in legal matters. While he endorsed the use of AI in low-level civil cases, he asserted that personal decisions, especially those concerning children’s welfare, should remain within the domain of human decision-making.
Striking the Right Balance
From my experience, the pivotal issue is recognising where human expertise is indispensable. While AI offers efficiency and convenience, it cannot match the nuance, accuracy, and expertise of a seasoned lawyer. An increasing number of court cases underscore this observation.
Guidelines for Incorporating AI into Legal Work
- Clearly reference the use of AI to prevent allegations of plagiarism.
- Always check AI-generated legal documents for inaccuracies to avoid potential negligence claims and wasted court time.
- While AI can be a valuable tool, especially for tasks like data analysis, lawyers must exercise caution, especially with sensitive documents such as Form E-financial disclosure forms.
AI’s Own Admittance
Interestingly, when queried about its role in legal proceedings, even AI Chat GPT acknowledges its limitations:
- For family court cases, AI Chat GPT stressed the importance of considering personal circumstances and emotions.
- On the topic of pensions post-divorce, it emphasised the complexity and need for expert advice.
- Regarding divorce, AI Chat GPT recommends seeking legal counsel.
- When queried about its implications on family law, AI Chat GPT conceded that while it can analyse data, it cannot replace the nuanced guidance of a human lawyer.
Family and Children Law requires a tailored approach, emphasising each client’s unique circumstances. AI can serve as a supplementary tool, but the nuances and personalised advice inherent in this field make human lawyers irreplaceable. Any work supported by AI tools, like Chat GPT, must undergo meticulous review to ensure its accuracy and relevancy.
To promote transparency, early disclosure of AI assistance is advisable, and ensuring all generated content has undergone rigorous checks can mitigate potential issues down the line.
This blog was written by Diane Decardi-Nelson, A family lawyer at 360 Law Services.