Bring up the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) to a group of attorneys—odds are the responses you receive will vary, but at least one doomsayer is guaranteed to warn you about AI leading to the total collapse of the legal profession. My interest in the idea of AI replacing lawyers was piqued earlier this year while attending an event at which I had the privilege to witness the celebration and recognition of many seasoned attorneys’ careers. I intently listened as each of these honorees took to the stage to accept their awards and shared sentiments unique to their own backgrounds and experiences. Though no two speeches were the same, I could not help but notice an overwhelming majority of them similarly commentated on the rise of AI and its looming threat to eliminate the need for human lawyers. One part of my brain thought, “Well, being a lawyer was fun while it lasted!” while the other immediately (and predictably) opposed the notion that what we do as personal injury attorneys could ever realistically be replicated by robots.
The latter thought led me to question whether I was overestimating the value of human lawyering in the age of rapid technological advancement, especially when I decided to dive further into the prevalence of legal AI by turning to my internet browser and customarily opening LexisNexis … before abruptly recognizing the irony in relying on an AI-generated search engine to educate myself about the very capabilities of intelligent machines. This was a humbling moment, and before long, I found myself reading about how the most recent version of ChatGPT, a popular AI chatbot that can perform a litany of legal tasks, not only passed the July 2023 bar exam but also outperformed 90% of new lawyers taking the exam. Debra Cassens