Opinion: Point

The Future of Law?

How ChatGPT is changing my practice.

Written by Brenda Derouen

Technology is rapidly changing the way we live and work, and the legal industry is no exception. From virtual courtrooms to online document management systems, technology is disrupting and transforming the way lawyers practice law.

One technology that is gaining traction in the legal industry is chatbots, or artificial intelligence-powered chat systems that can simulate conversation with human users. Chatbots can be used in a number of ways in the legal industry, including to provide legal information, answer frequently asked questions, and even assist with legal research.

GPT, or generative pre-training transformer, is a type of artificial intelligence, or AI, technology that is commonly used in chatbots. GPT uses machine learning algorithms to analyze and understand large amounts of data and then generate responses based on that data.

In the context of legal practice, chatbots powered by GPT technology can be used to assist lawyers in a number of ways:1

1. Attorneys can use ChatGPT to quickly and efficiently conduct legal research by asking specific questions and receiving relevant results in real-time. Of course, as with any automated technology, use caution and have a human check any work performed. Currently, ChatGTP only has information up to 2021, but developers are working to improve ChatGPT systems to make sure that they are up to date on the latest information. This includes using the latest research and techniques in natural language processing and machine learning to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of ChatGPT.

I’ve personally used ChatGPT to assist with drafting legal memorandums and motions. I also used it in the middle of a hearing to look up caselaw for a judge to rule favorably for my client. What could have taken me a couple of days only took me five seconds. ChatGPT is also trained to brief cases for law students. I tested it out, and it can brief cases in IRAC (issue, rule, application, conclusion) and CRAC (conclusion, rule, application, conclusion) format. It also cites cases in the format that you ask it so students should not have to refer back to their bluebooks. ChatGPT can do it. On my TikTok, I show how I saved my clients hundreds of dollars by using ChatGPT to research and draft a basic motion.

2. Attorneys can use ChatGPT to assist with the tone of their emails sent to clients, court staff, and opposing counsel. Attorneys can also use ChatGPT to create templates for common types of emails, such as reminders or updates, which can help to ensure that the tone of the emails is consistent and professional.

3. ChatGPT language translation can be a useful tool for judges who have limited resources, as it can help to facilitate communication with clients and parties who speak languages other than English.

For attorneys looking to stay ahead of the curve and embrace new technologies in their practice, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind.

Stay up to date with your technology. The legal tech landscape is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay informed about the latest tools and trends. Join legal tech groups and attend conferences to stay in the loop.

Find a niche. Not just in your practice area but with the technology that you use. For example, you might focus on virtual courtrooms, online dispute resolution, or a specific legal research tool.

Invest in training. Many legal tech tools offer training and support to help users get up to speed. Take advantage of these resources to ensure that you are using the tools effectively and efficiently.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new technology and see what works best for your practice. TBJ

This article, which was originally published on the DeRouen Law Firm blog, has been edited and reprinted with permission.

1. Attorneys should be aware that Comment 8 to Rule 1.01—which requires that they not accept representation for matters that are “beyond the lawyer’s competence”—states that this obligation includes that they “strive to become and remain proficient and competent in the practice of law, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” Your obligations under the TDRPC, such as competence or confidentiality, etc., continue to apply no matter how novel or useful a new technology turns out to be.

Headshot of Brenda DerouenBRENDA DEROUEN is the managing attorney of the DeRouen Law Firm based in Pearland, where she focuses on family law. She is an active member of the Houston Bar Association and serves as president of the Association of Women Attorneys. DeRouen received her J.D. from Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law.


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