The news these days is filled with stories about Artificial Intelligence and how it will change our lives. We’ve seen impressive examples of AI-generated stories, poems and essays composed in the voice of famous writers. Lawyers are wondering how this new tool will alter (or obliterate) our practices.
Don’t panic yet. It’s apparent that there will be an impact in our legal world but it’s equally apparent that AI has a way to go yet.
To illustrate the point, and for my own edification, I opened an account with Chat GPT and asked what it could tell me about North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert Edmunds. Here’s what I found out:
I was born in Dobson, N.C. (nope) on February 19, 1949 (sorry). I went to UNC for my undergraduate degree (wrong again) and, after law school, clerked for Judge Hiram Ward in the Middle District of North Carolina (never clerked). I was appointed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina by Governor Easley (never appointed to judicial position) and was elected to full terms in 2002 and 2010 (should be 2000 and 2008). I chaired the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission (not me). I retired upon reaching mandatory retirement age (uh-uh—lost an election) and now work as an arbitrator with JAMS (AAA, not JAMS).
That’s a sobering number of mistakes in a short report. It also omits a number of pertinent facts, including that I practice law with Fox Rothschild these days.
I’m not recommending that anyone eschew AI. It may prove helpful in generating rough drafts that can be heavily edited and checked for legal and factual accuracy. At least for now, rely on it at your peril. Know your firm’s guidelines and the state’s ethical rules. AI might be able to compose an answer that can earn a passing grade on a bar exam, but until it can get basic information right, it’s more artificial than intelligent.
Try it, using yourself as the subject of an inquiry. I’d love to hear what new things you discover in your life. –Bob Edmunds