Embracing A.I. in Law: The Ethical Integration of Technology in Legal Practice

January 9, 2024

Chief Justice John Roberts focused his 2023 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary on technology and the inevitable disruptive force it will have on lawyers and judges alike. While he stops short of concluding that judges (and lawyers, for that matter) will become obsolete, he’s nevertheless confident that technological changes will continue transforming the work of the legal profession.

Resistance to Change in the Legal Profession

For many lawyers, this will not come as welcome news. Chief Roberts observes that:

“[t]he legal profession is, in general, notoriously averse to change,” and “[w]hile many professions eagerly anticipated advances in computing, the prevailing attitude within the judiciary was”—and, in my opinion, is—“skepticism.”

For example, among a survey of various historical technological advances that the legal profession was painfully slow to adopt, he notes that “the Supreme Court did not even have the photocopy machine until Chief Justice Warren E. Burger ordered one in 1969,” which was 31 years after they were invented.

Adapting to changes is crucial, as the saying goes, ‘Either you catch the bus or risk being left behind by it.’

Embracing Technological Change

Artificial Intelligence is an inevitable disruptive force in various professional services, including the legal industry. As we navigate this new industrial revolution, it’s essential to embrace and incorporate A.I. technologies ethically. However, with recent high-profile sanctions against attorneys in New York and Colorado for improperly delegating their legal responsibilities to A.I., finding tools and methods to integrate A.I. into legal practice safely has become paramount.

iA Writer is a minimalist, multi-platform writing software primarily used by authors to streamline and focus their writing process. Its latest version, iA Writer 7, introduces a feature designed to mark text generated by A.I. systems like ChatGPT. With this feature, A.I.-contributed text is grayed out, distinguishing it from the user’s own words. This helps writers maintain a clear distinction between their original content and that generated by A.I.

The iA Writer 7’s feature offers a potential solution in this regard. Its ability to visually separate A.I.-generated content from original writing assists attorneys in maintaining the integrity and accountability of their work. This is crucial for compliance with ethical standards, ensuring that lawyers do not inadvertently present A.I.-generated text as their own legal analysis or advice.

Balancing Innovation and Ethical Practice

Emphasizing A.I. as partner to brainstorm and edit ideas as opposed to using it as ghostwriter, iA Writer encourages users to engage with A.I.-generated content critically. This approach balances embracing technological innovation and the ethical practice of law, where thorough analysis and thoughtful, personal judgment are vital. Lawyers can use A.I. as a tool to enhance their thought process and not as an independent contractor to whom the task of providing legal counsel has been outsourced, ensuring that their final work product reflects their expertise responsibly.

The Role of Professionals in Legal Proceedings

The tool isn’t a fig leaf for the lazy, unethical lawyer, however. It relies on user honesty as it requires them to include the original A.I. text to be recognized. Attorneys must remain vigilant, intentional, and ethical in their writing, distinguishing between their work and A.I. contributions. After all, as Chief Roberts discerns, “[m]achines cannot fully replace key actors in court.”

iA Writer 7’s feature provides forward-thinking, ethical lawyers with a tool to ethically integrate A.I. into their legal practice. As A.I.’s presence and influence grows, tools like iA Writer 7 can play a significant role in ensuring that attorneys use—as they inevitably must (and, hopefully, not delayed by another 30 years)—A.I. responsibly and in accordance with their professional obligations.

To discuss further, please reach out to KJK attorney Gregory Williams (GLW@kjk.com; 614.427.5746).