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Unveiling the Impact of Chat GPT on the Study of Law

by Shereena Kamal |

ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI. It is specifically trained on a diverse range of internet text, making it proficient in a wide array of topics and able to respond to a variety of queries. The artificial intelligence (AI) model can be used for a variety of purposes, such as answering questions, providing explanations, generating creative text, assisting with writing tasks, and much more. It is capable of natural language understanding and generation, allowing it to engage in human-like conversations with users and provide contextually relevant responses.

Seems great, until you realize that the text above was ChatGPT hyping itself up. While the new intelligence model clearly has its perks, the legal profession has discovered some “red flags”.

As a law student, the launch of ChatGPT was promising and, in some ways, helpful. For many, it can be a useful supplementary resource to enhance their understanding of legal concepts and provide quick and straightforward answers to basic legal questions.

However, anything beyond the basic explanations of topics and answers to questions, ChatGPT may not be as helpful as we think. It instills a false sense of confidence in its responses, some of which are flat-out wrong. AI does not replace the depth of knowledge and expertise gained from consulting with professors and legal professionals, hence the frequent disclaimers that you should contact an attorney after many of its responses.

Recently, we have seen the drawbacks of ChatGPT when lawyers relied on it for legal research. While online legal research services like Westlaw and Lexis are reputable resources for lawyers and legal professionals, it's understandable that some may turn to ChatGPT as an additional source. However, it's essential to recognize that chatbots can be prone to inaccuracies, evidenced by a recent incident where two lawyers and a law firm were fined $5,000 for submitting fictitious legal research. They were found to have used the AI model to submit non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations.

Relying solely on chatbots for critical tasks, such as legal research, without cross-referencing and verifying the information through reputable sources can lead to serious professional and ethical issues. Additionally, as a law student, the consequences for acting in such a manner would be far worse than being fined; it could lead to severe repercussions, potentially jeopardizing one's law school journey.

While ChatGPT surely has its benefits, in the legal profession we have seen instances where it may be more of a detriment. But, in efforts to end this piece on a positive note, I will share a tip on how the AI model can be helpful to law students.

Using the ChatGPT can come in handy during the editing stages of your own legal writing. It improves the structure of arguments, identifies grammatical errors, and enhances the overall coherence of the written work. In fact, I used it for editing purposes of this article. Well written, right? But let's play fair. As much as ChatGPT is a proofreading game changer, remember that the key to success lies in using it to complement your brilliance, not replace it. Keep it real and original. Harness the editing power of ChatGPT, but always stay true to your own genius.

About the Author

Shereena Kamal

Shereena Kamal, a 2L at Elon University School of Law, interned at Lawyers Mutual during the summer of 2023. Shereena earned her undergraduate degree from the North Carolina State University in 2022, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Business Administration.


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