Risks a Lawyer Faces When Using ChatGPT
As an AI language model developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is designed to provide general information and cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, lawyers face several risks when using ChatGPT to provide legal advice to their clients.
- Inaccurate or incomplete information: ChatGPT provides responses based on the data it has been trained on, which may not be comprehensive or up-to-date. Therefore, lawyers who rely solely on ChatGPT may provide inaccurate or incomplete information to their clients.
- Confidentiality breaches: Lawyers have a duty to maintain client confidentiality. If a lawyer uses ChatGPT to communicate with their client and the information provided is not adequately secured, there is a risk that confidential information may be disclosed to unauthorized third parties.
- Malfunction of the AI model: As an AI model, ChatGPT can malfunction or provide incorrect responses, which may result in negative consequences for the client or the lawyer.
- Misuse of the AI model: If a lawyer relies too heavily on ChatGPT and fails to exercise their professional judgment, this could result in ethical violations or malpractice claims.
Therefore, while ChatGPT can be a useful tool for lawyers to supplement their legal knowledge and research, it should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice or professional judgment.
Other Risks and Limitations From OpenAI’s own Website include:
- ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. Fixing this issue is challenging, as: (1) during RL training, there’s currently no source of truth; (2) training the model to be more cautious causes it to decline questions that it can answer correctly; and (3) supervised training misleads the model because the ideal answer depends on what the model knows, rather than what the human demonstrator knows.
- ChatGPT is sensitive to tweaks to the input phrasing or attempting the same prompt multiple times. For example, given one phrasing of a question, the model can claim to not know the answer, but given a slight rephrase, can answer correctly.
- The model is often excessively verbose and overuses certain phrases, such as restating that it’s a language model trained by OpenAI. These issues arise from biases in the training data (trainers prefer longer answers that look more comprehensive) and well-known over-optimization issues.1,2
- Ideally, the model would ask clarifying questions when the user provided an ambiguous query. Instead, our current models usually guess what the user intended.
- While we’ve made efforts to make the model refuse inappropriate requests, it will sometimes respond to harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior. We’re using the Moderation API to warn or block certain types of unsafe content, but we expect it to have some false negatives and positives for now. We’re eager to collect user feedback to aid our ongoing work to improve this system.
There are several unfavorable outcomes that lawyers may encounter if they depend too heavily on ChatGPT:
- Inaccurate or incomplete information: ChatGPT is a language model that generates responses based on patterns it has learned from large datasets. While it can be a useful tool for lawyers, it may not always provide accurate or complete information. Lawyers may risk relying on incorrect or incomplete information, which could lead to costly mistakes.
- Lack of context: ChatGPT generates responses based on the input it receives. However, it may not always take into account the full context of a legal issue, including specific jurisdictional or factual nuances. Lawyers who rely too heavily on ChatGPT may miss important details that could affect their case.
- Ethical concerns: Lawyers have a duty to provide competent representation to their clients. If they rely too heavily on ChatGPT and fail to exercise independent professional judgment, they may risk violating ethical rules or standards.
- Reduced critical thinking skills: Over-reliance on ChatGPT may cause lawyers to become overly dependent on technology, leading to a decline in their critical thinking skills. This could impact their ability to analyze legal issues and effectively advocate for their clients.
- Loss of personal touch: ChatGPT cannot replace the human element of legal representation, including the ability to build relationships with clients, negotiate effectively, and provide emotional support. Lawyers who rely too heavily on technology may miss out on these important aspects of their practice.
Overall, while ChatGPT can be a useful tool for lawyers, it should not be relied upon exclusively. Lawyers should use their own professional judgment and critical thinking skills in conjunction with technology to provide competent representation to their clients.
Attorneys need to be aware of technology that is impacting their industry, and utilizing technology can bring heightened efficiency and improved service to clients when used properly. However, it is critical that attorneys recognize both the enhancements and the risks inherent in new tools as they come available. Use of ChatGPT in your legal practice can have significant downside if you do not recognize and address its shortcomings while incorporating use of it into your daily activities.