AI in the Legal Field

AI Lawyer

The 1987 cinematic classic Robocop was ripe with discussions on policing, politics, and automation, the film itself an advanced study on just exactly what it means to pursue justice from a completely objective perspective. Just kidding, the movie is a pile of hot garbage that spawned several sequels and somehow even a reboot, but nonetheless it has been studied for the reasons picked out: what does it mean to try and automate a system that is, at its core, incredibly human? As artificial intelligence becomes a more and more attainable reality, the question remains: can you automate justice? Today, we look at the intersection of the law and technology to see just how much AI can do for you, legally-speaking.

I just asked ChatGPT, the leading free AI answer-bot, what happens when you get a DUI in Arizona. For what it’s worth, it did provide all of the correct information, legally-speaking. At this point, a tinge of panic set in. If a free AI chatbot can provide accurate information on what would happen, could it also tell me how to beat the charges? “As an AI language model, it is not appropriate for me to provide advice on how to beat a DUI charge in Arizona,” ChatGPT started, before going on to explain at least 6 different ways I could argue the case in court. Truly shocking, ChatGPT executed an attorney power move, the digital equivalent of “I can’t tell you this, buuut…”

Panicked, I did what any good client would do: I asked how ChatGPT knew all of this. ChatGPT responded: “my answers come from a large database of text and information that has been collected and analyzed from a variety of sources, including books, websites, academic journals, and other reputable sources.” Fair enough, I thought, until I considered that I have no way of knowing what these vague “reputable sources” are. I asked ChatGPT if it could be more specific about where it finds information on Arizona law, and it responded that it pulls information from “statutes and case law… government websites… legal databases… and reputable online sources.” I asked ChatGPT if it could be more specific about what makes a source “reputable” in its digital eyes, and it… gave me the definition of the word “reputable.” Apparently there are still some bugs to work out.

Still, the fact remains that, although it comes with a disclaimer, ChatGPT gave me legal advice - advice it had compiled by sweeping the entirety of the internet and a vast yet unspecified library of presumably legal texts. The American justice system allows you to represent yourself in court, and legal fees are widely regarded (although largely incorrectly) as incredibly expensive, and for a brief moment it seemed like the writing was on the wall: ChatGPT can pass the bar so now, for free, anyone can, too.

Then I remembered something I’d read in a New York Times post the other day that over 85% of new hires were referred to their job by a current employee. Networking, the human kind, works better than going it alone - and the same is true for the law. An attorney -despite what you might have heard- is a real person, and these real people have connections with other lawyers and judges. The point of hiring an attorney is that you’re getting access to a legal expert to defend you, but in a day and age where everyone can be an expert on anything thanks to the internet and/or AI, the other thing you’re paying for are those human connections. Attorneys get deals done every day because they know the other people involved in the legal side of the proceedings. A well-connected attorney knows people, or knows people who know people, and can get most cases settled out of court, generally with reduced or even completely erased penalties.

Here’s the thing: until ChatGPT can put on a suit and tie and roll its way into a courtroom, you’re always going to be better off hiring an experienced attorney for any legal proceeding. Not only does AI tell you it isn’t a lawyer, it also doesn’t know the minute, human ins-and-outs of everyday legal proceedings. While the concept of using AI for legal research is an absolute game-changer, using AI as a solid legal defense is still off the table. If you need to talk to a real, human lawyer about your real, human legal fate, call us at Palestini Law today, where the only automated thing we trust is the espresso maker in the back.


Originally from Toronto, Canada, James Palestini relocated to Arizona where he received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Studies with a minor in Criminology from Arizona State University. James then attended law school at Phoenix School of Law where he earned a Juris Doctorate degree. While pursuing his doctorate, James interned at a criminal defense firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. James handled a multitude of criminal cases there, including felony, misdemeanor and criminal traffic matters.