Legal Technology

Artificial intelligence in the legal profession should be regulated, op-ed argues

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Artificial Intelligence

Lawyers using artificial intelligence technology have an ethical obligation to spot mistakes and recognize anomalies. But how can the public be protected when using the technology for legal services?

The answer is regulation of artificial intelligence in legal services, according to an op-ed by Hinshaw Culbertson partner Wendy Wen Yun Chang, a member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Chang is expressing her own views in the column for Bloomberg Big Law Business.

Artificial-intelligence technology processes and analyzes large amounts of data to reach reasoned conclusions, providing immense potential benefits, she writes. But it also carries risks if something goes amiss.

Laypeople using artificial-intelligence legal services without a lawyer “might not know that something is wrong until they have relied on the wrong answer and taken a legal step, and it is too late,” Chang says.

“All they had was the promise that the computer would apply the law to their factual situation and provide an answer to their legal problems at a price they could afford. When an entity or individual not licensed to practice law makes and acts on this promise, we call it the unauthorized practice of law.”

Chang argues that artificial-intelligence providers should not be allowed to hold themselves out as providing legal services without an actual lawyer’s involvement and supervision.

“Who will regulate the providers and require quality standards?” Chang asks. “It does not have to be the same set of rules that lawyers abide by. It can be independent. But right now, there is no regulatory scheme.… The industry is moving along without us. Very quickly. We must act, or we will be left behind.”

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