As we enter the Artificial Intelligence Age, there is a lot to think about in many aspects of law and society. I encourage you to read Brian X. Chen’s piece in the New York Times Don’t Use A.I. to Cheat in School. It’s Better for Studying. (Gift article link.) The power of the emerging AI tools cannot be denied.

I encourage lawyers to read this piece not because of cheating concerns. I have “missing the point” concerns. When I see people post about a new AI tools impacting legal, for example like an AI tool that reviews contracts and creates a memo summarizing the primary provisions, there is always an immediate reaction like “you will lose your law license or get sued if you use that tool.” We had a few well-publicized blunders by lawyers not understanding the limits of ChatGPT. Sadly, we will probably see a few more. But don’t assume it will make errors in document summaries. That is a relatively routine AI function. If you are unsure of the completeness or accuracy of a summary, then you review that section of the document, which is how summaries have always been used.

You may not feel ready for AI. But as a lawyer you are a life-long learner. This article outlines using AI to learn. I was peripherally involved in a few major trial war rooms decades ago. The excitement of the upcoming trial was tempered with terror as last minute items sometimes cropped up. There were boxes of exhibits, depositions and those ever-important deposition summaries. Today depositions come with key word indexes, which save time.  But why would it be wrong or even a negative to have your AI quickly prepare summaries of all depositions? Maybe you instruct it to compare the summaries to your “theory of the case” document and make suggestions for adding deposition snips to it. Back in the day we had interns or new lawyers do many deposition summaries. There were likely inconsequential errors. Experienced lawyers caught them.

Think of using AI to structure and make more accessible your law firm’s information about lots of substantive areas while maintaining client confidentiality. The tool you want may not exist at the moment or it may be hard to locate.  But it is coming—soon.