Navigating Risks And Opportunities Of AI In Legal Practice

Akshat Khetan

28 Jun 2023 1:15 PM GMT

  • use of ChatGPT by lawyers, personal informartion, data breach, client details, privacy policy
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    Deciding whether to leverage Artificial Intelligence for better legal outcomes may not be as long-standing a case as the petition involving Berhampore Bank’s liquidation. This petition took nearly seven decades to reach its logical conclusion. The use of AI, comparatively, may find acceptance faster in the legal industry although currently the practice of AI is a paradox of sorts.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already emerged as a transformative force in several sectors such as drug discovery and high-tech manufacturing. Many proponents have argued previously on the benefits of a clutch of AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and even data analytics. Ability of AI tools to streamline legal processes, improve efficiency, and enhance access to justice are some of the factors for optimism in legal circles.

    To countless legal practitioners, the big question certainly is whether to rely on AI or not to. With countries such as China openly embracing AI in courtrooms, one must introspect on the benefits and its risks.


    Among the significant benefit that AI offers Legal professionals is its ability to mine copious amounts of data, perform research and due diligence processes. AI-powered tools can significantly enhance legal research by quickly analyzing vast volumes of legal documents, court cases, and precedents. These tools can provide comprehensive insights, highlight relevant information, and aid in case preparation. AI can also assist in due diligence by automating the review of contracts, identifying risks, and improving efficiency.

    AI algorithms can analyze and extract key information from legal documents, reducing the time-consuming task of manual review. Natural language processing enables machines to understand legal language, identify clauses, and extract relevant data. This can expedite processes with contract review, e-discovery, and regulatory compliance.

    AI algorithms can analyze large datasets to predict case outcomes, assess legal risks, and guide litigation strategies. By analyzing historical patterns, AI can offer insights into the probability of success in specific cases, allowing lawyers to make informed decisions. This can help in resource allocation, settlement negotiations, and overall case management.

    To countless users, tools such as ChatGPT or Bard have only empowered users. OpenAI's ChatGPT interface enables an answering mode that could provide responses in a language that a 6-year-old could understand. One of the challenges with our legal discourse has been the usage of complicated terminologies and syntaxes. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide basic legal information, answer frequently asked questions, and assist individuals in navigating legal processes. This can enhance access to justice, particularly for underserved populations who may face barriers in obtaining legal advice and representation.

    Perhaps for the first time in India, a court has used artificial intelligence for taking opinions on a criminal case. Justice Anoop Chitkara Of Punjab and Haryana HC used ChatGPT for validating its opinion regarding the bail application of an accused. This is the first instance ChatGPT has been used to decide on a bail application in India.

    The bench sought the opinion of ChatGPT regarding the legal jurisprudence on granting bail in a case where the accused has been charged with a crime involving cruelty. However, the judges made it clear that references to the viral chatbot are only intended to present a broader picture of bail jurisprudence in cases where cruelty is a factor.


    To lawyers who work in a high-pressure environment and legal counsel practitioners who have to evaluate multiple case-scenarios, availability of AI may seem like a blessing. But a recent case of a lawyer using ChatGPT has rekindled the question on morality and ethics. The lawyer revealed a US district court that his case brief contained references to cases that were non-existent. The lawyer also revealed that he had used the popular ChatGPT interface to complete the legal documentation.

    To understand the phenomenon from a non-technical perspective, AI algorithms require large amounts of data-pools to learn and make accurate predictions. Unfortunately. tools such as ChatGPT or Bard have not clarified exactly what these data-pools comprise of. Technology experts have pointed out this phenomenon as a “hallucinating effect”. Providing hallucinated data or analysis can damage an entire judicial system which is centered around the tenets of universal, equitable and fair justice system. The likelihood of usage of personal data also raises concerns about privacy, confidentiality, and even data security.

    AI systems are trained on historical data, which may contain biases. If these biases are not adequately addressed, AI can perpetuate discriminatory practices, such as biased legal decisions or profiling. Efforts must be made to ensure that AI algorithms are fair, transparent, and do not disproportionately impact marginalized communities.

    While AI can assist in legal research, document review, and contract analysis, it lacks the human element of judgment, reasoning, and ethical considerations. Relying solely on AI systems may lead to decisions that overlook unique circumstances or fail to account for ethical and moral considerations. The absence of human accountability for AI-driven outcomes can undermine public trust and raise legal and ethical concerns.

    AI has the potential to revolutionize the legal industry by automating routine tasks, improving efficiency, and enhancing access to justice. So, its practice will certainly save time and resources for legal systems. But risks associated with ethics, privacy, bias, and accountability must be effectively addressed. Lawyers and policymakers need to ensure that AI systems adhere to ethical guidelines, maintain transparency, and avoid perpetuating biases. By leveraging AI technologies responsibly and in conjunction with human expertise, the legal industry can harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its potential risks.

    Author: Akshat Khetan is a distinguished corporate and legal advisor. (Twitter @akshat_khetan). Views are personal.

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