A venture technology legal take on conversational AI tools: Can I use ChatGPT instead of a lawyer?

By Megan Cornell and James Côté

Conversations around AI and the legal profession have been going on for quite a while. Earlier work was merely inquisitive (Legal Expert Systems – Robot Lawyers?, August 1989) but, as computer-driven legal services became available to the general public, articles began to sound more provocative (Cut the Lawyer Out of Your Will?, February 2010), then more concerned (Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Law Degree, December 2015). Five years ago, we were warned: A.I. Is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet. (March 2017).

Since November 2022, everyone’s conversations on AI seem to be about one specific tool: ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, (though Bard, by Google has recently joined the conversation). ChatGPT has caused quite the commotion. Its release has led to discussions on whether or not the college essay is dead, if AI would make democracy even more messy, and of course, if a computer could pass the Bar exam. Clearly, the potential is vast: one of the authors recently received some Valentine’s Day poetry from their spouse, who had generated it through the chatbot.

Despite so much fanfare, the general consensus is the same as in 2017: “No, lawyers won’t be replaced by artificial intelligence. Yet. Give it a few years” (Will ChatGPT make lawyers obsolete? (Hint: be afraid) – December 2022). That said, there is a lot of interesting potential for legal work to be enhanced by AI generally, including “answer platforms” such as ChatGPT. Below, we put ChatGPT to the test to see how well it mimics seasoned legal advice and whether it provides better documents than you might find on Google.

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