Generative AI and its impact on the legal industry - Hindustan Times

Generative AI and its impact on the legal industry

ByHindustan Times
Jan 29, 2024 03:30 PM IST

This article is authored by Tarun Yadav, assistant professor of law, NMIMS, Hyderabad.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) is a new phenomenon which has taken the world by storm in this passing year. Generative AI is a type of AI which is capable of generating a wide variety of things, be they images, text documents or other media. Generative AI is based on models which generate new data built on the characteristics of the data input provided to it. The data input for a Generative AI can be a specific dataset or instructions provided to it by the user or it can be any public access information directly taken from the vast repository of the World Wide Web. These AI models are capable of continuous learning by which they refine themselves even further. Generative AI is not shackled by rules and programming like normal or traditional AI programmes. This is what allows them to be creative and generate new data which resembles human-made content.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence

The majority of the specialised industries have been touched by the phenomenon of Generative AI and the legal industry is no exception. Legal work is intellectually very rigorous as it demands a different nuanced approach to every case. Legal work is extremely time-consuming and requires extensive research while also demanding enormous attention to detail. These characteristics and requirements of legal work have so far been a major deterrence to the incorporation of technology in the legal industry. Before the existence of Generative AI, the last major technology incorporation in the legal industry was the establishment of online databases and repositories of legal knowledge when the transition from solely pen and paper-based systems to a hybrid with digital systems took place.

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The capability of a Generative AI to continuously learn, refine and better itself allows it to cope with the extensive requirements of legal work. Generative AI can be used to accomplish a variety of tasks such as legal research, due diligence, preparation of briefs and summarisation of a multitude of extensive legal documents. Generative AI can take on the load of completing the drudge work in the legal field and allow lawyers and advocates to focus on the tasks which require an innate human touch such as context and understanding.

However, just because a Generative AI can do something doesn’t mean that it would be necessarily correct in the execution of its work. Generative AI can provide intelligent and logical answers to legal problems by relying on the information present on the World Wide Web but it is no guarantee that the same would be sound from a legal standpoint. Another issue with the use of Generative AI is what would be the answer to a problem in which completely contradictory information as the solution is provided on the World Wide Web. Similarly, the issue of the veracity of the source relied upon by the Generative AI still has no answer because until and unless the source of information is incorrect, Generative AI won’t be able to provide a correct solution to the legal conundrum involved.

The advent of Generative AI has also brought into the limelight issues related to intellectual property and confidentiality. The issue of intellectual property is quite simple to understand but very difficult to resolve. When two individuals use Generative AI to solve a similar problem or question, they may end up with the same solution, which can then be used to create an intellectual work. However, it is unclear who owns the rights to the intellectual property, as the use of Generative AI makes it difficult to determine the original creator of the work.

The second issue of confidentiality is that the brief, strategy and research done by a lawyer or an advocate should not be accessible or available to a different lawyer or advocate. The Generative AI needs to make sure that the information in its database can’t be accessed by a rival lawyer or advocate. Hence, compartmentalisation of information will be required but this has a chance of hampering the learning process of the Generative AI and ultimately its efficiency.

In my opinion, even Generative AI can’t replace advocates. It is ultimately bound by logic. So, any solution to a legal conundrum given by it is going to be based on the existing facts and logic as it is unable to take into consideration the discovery of additional facts and evidence later on. Generative AI can be an excellent tool in the hands of a good advocate and enable a single advocate with Generative AI to compete against a team of advocates without Generative AI. Generative AI, if properly developed, can transform how the legal industry works. It won’t result in the displacement of advocates but can surely lead to the displacement of advocates by those who use AI.

This article is authored by Tarun Yadav, assistant professor of law, NMIMS, Hyderabad.

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