I Robot, Esq.-Artificial Intelligence & Its Implications for the Ethical Practice of Law

01.28.19

Craig Alexander moderated a discussion about AI being used to conduct legal research, draft contracts, review documents, create patent applications, predict the outcome of cases, and much  more at the 2019 Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) Mid-Year meeting in Las Vegas on January 24-26.

With Legal chatbots being developed to allow law firms to communicate with potential clients, Artificial Intelligence in its many forms is rapidly changing the way we practice law. Nonetheless, the Model Rules remain premised on the idea that the practice of law is conducted by human lawyers who are expected to know and follow the legal ethics rules.

Should an artificial lawyer be subject to the Model Rules? If so, what should be the fundamental ethical laws for “legal robots”?

Before setting up AI, it’s important to consider the following ethical questions:

  • How does a lawyer’s duty of competence bear on the need for a lawyer to understand the risks and benefits of using artificial intelligence?
  • Does a lawyer’s reliance on artificial intelligence threaten to erode the lawyer’s exercise of independent professional judgment, and what steps should a lawyer take as a safeguard against that threat?
  • What is the extent of a lawyer’s duty to supervise the use of artificial intelligence, as a form of non-lawyer assistance?
  • What steps should a lawyer employing a legal chatbot to communicate with potential clients take to first determine whether there are any actual or potential conflicts of interest?
  • Is it permissible for a lawyer to offer, for a fee, online document generation tools that may not include the provision of actual legal advice from the lawyer, with a disclaimer that the use of these tools does not create an attorney-client relationship?
 
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