Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Bilek & Merritt: ChatGPT Almost Passed The Bar, But Competent Lawyers Do Much More

Bloomberg Law Op-Ed:  ChatGPT Almost Passed the Bar, But Competent Lawyers Do Much More, by Mary Lu Bilek (CUNY) & Deborah Merritt (Ohio State):

Open AI ChatGPTChatGPT, OpenAI’s provocative artificial intelligence program, has come close to passing the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam. The bot has also earned passing grades on law school essays that resemble ones written for the exam. ...

Yet, even in a bill-by-the-hour world, clients who can afford it will still seek out human lawyers. Why? Because humans are far better than bots at eliciting facts and goals from clients, identifying new avenues of research, and solving multi-dimensional problems. Human experts will supplement those advantages by knowing when to consult AI, how to assess AI responses, and how to integrate AI knowledge with the human dimensions of a client problem. ...

The bar exam heavily tests candidates’ recall of detailed legal principles, like the arcane rule against perpetuities assessed on the most recent exam. A century ago, lawyers stored those principles in memory, pulling them out when necessary. But the explosive growth of legal rules since the New Deal has made that practice impossible: There are simply too many legal rules for any lawyer to accurately remember more than a tiny fraction of them. And good lawyers recognize that legal rules change, both over time and as lawyers move across state lines.

As ChatGPT demonstrates, well trained AI can perform these tasks in less than a minute—with flawless grammar, spelling, and organization. Astute clients will want lawyers who know how and when to use the bot, how to explore subtleties outside the bot’s comprehension, and how to devise creative solutions. Bots are better than humans at thinking inside the box, but humans excel at reaching outside the box. ...

ChatGPT provides yet more evidence that time-pressured, closed-book written exams reflect outdated lawyering practices. Those exams perpetuate exclusionary practices without adequately protecting clients.

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