Geoff Lewis, founder and managing partner of tech investment firm Bedrock Capital, warns against going to law school, saying robot lawyers are disrupting the profession and can already handle complex contracts for businesses.
Artificial intelligence could be coming for the legal profession, Lewis said in a recent CNBC interview. “I talk to folks who spend tens of thousands of dollars a week on legal bills,” Lewis said. “[T]hey’re already using ChatGPT to generate complex contracts. I think the legal field is in a lot of trouble.”
The legal profession has exposure levels as high as 76 percent, meaning that 76 percent of their job could be done quicker by AI software, according to a recent study by ChatGPT parent OpenAI. By comparison, chefs, barbers and electricians had exposure levels as low as 3 percent, Yahoo Finance reported.
ChatGPT can draft legal letters, generate basic contracts and translate legalese to make it more understandable by non-lawyers, leaving legal secretaries and administrative assistants 100 percent exposed.
Joshua Browder, the owner of online service DoNotPay, uses AI to automate several tasks traditionally done by lawyers, helping users contest parking tickets, report tax fraud and other services.
DoNotPay costs $36 a year compared to the typical lawyer’s triple-digit hourly fee. Browder said in a tweet that he got backlash from lawyers and State Bar associations earlier this year when he said he would try and take his “robot lawyer” to court to test a traffic violation case.
“They were threatening to charge us with unauthorized practice of law,” Browder said.
It was enough to make Browder back off and focus on DoNotPay’s main goal of consumer rights and advocacy, Gizmodo reported. Now, “we’ve basically shifted away from this legal direction and we’re doing all consumer rights,” Browder said. Getting consumers their money back from places like greedy utility companies and insurers is DoNotPay’s “bread and butter,” he told Gizmodo.
Despite being tech savvy, younger attorneys could find themselves completely displaced, civil litigator and educator Jonathan Wolf wrote for Above The Law.
“Although a flesh-and-blood lawyer still has to look over any contract or other legal document drafted by a large language model, I’m willing to bet that the first drafts spit out from some commercial AI services are already better than what you’d get by having a very green associate take a run at it,” Wolf wrote.
A recent high-profile incident in a federal case underscored the need for lawyers to verify the legal insights generated by AI-powered tools when an attorney failed to check whether cases produced by ChatGPT as part of his research were authentic, Legal Dive reported.
ChatGPT can now pass the bar exam, but it’s not all bad news for the entire profession.
“Let’s see a robot successfully navigate a situation where a sobbing millionaire who is paying you hundreds of dollars per hour is trying to direct the course of a legal dispute while some dickbag lawyer on the other side attempts to stab you in the back from the shadows,” Wolf added.
Bedrock Capital’s Lewis suggested the same thing, saying on CNBC, “I do think the criminal defense lawyers are going to be OK.”
For the legal industry, ChatGPT may warn of “an even more momentous shift than the advent of the internet,” wrote Andrew Perlman, dean and professor of law at Suffolk University Law School. “AI will not eliminate the need for lawyers, but it does portend the end of lawyering as we know it.”