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ChatGPT and Generative AI Legal Research Guide

Impact on Access to Justice

AI Legal Tools Could Be Too Pricy For Those Most In Need, Law360, Marco Poggio, May 3, 2024

Dorna Moini created HelpSelf Legal, an AI-powered platform to assist domestic violence victims, and later founded Gavel, a programmable legal automation platform. While AI tools like Gavel have the potential to help under-resourced legal aid organizations scale their services, concerns have been raised about the affordability of these tools for cash-strapped nonprofits and pro se litigants. Subscription costs, even as low as $20 per month, could be a barrier for resource-constrained organizations and individuals. Additionally, the lack of access to computers, internet, and digital literacy among low-income litigants could widen the justice gap. Despite the promise of AI leveling the playing field, there are fears that legal aid attorneys may not have access to the most advanced technologies.

Generative AI and Legal Aid: Results from a Field Study and 100 Use Cases to Bridge the Access to Justice Gap, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Forthcoming, Colleen V. Chien and Miriam Kim, March 14, 2024

This study investigates the potential of generative AI tools to bridge the access to justice gap for low-income Americans lacking adequate legal assistance. Conducted by UC Berkeley School of Law professors Colleen V. Chien and Miriam Kim, it includes the first known field study of lawyers using generative AI, alongside a survey of 202 legal aid professionals. Ninety-one individuals were given 1-2 months of access to paid generative AI tools, with a subset also receiving additional support. Post-trial, 90% of participants reported increased productivity, and 75% intended to continue using the AI tools, finding them particularly useful for tasks such as document summarization and translation. Initially, there was a notable gender disparity in tool use and valuation, which had evened out by the end of the trial. Those who received concierge services reported significantly better outcomes. The findings advocate for generative AI as a means to enhance legal services and suggest steps to encourage broader adoption, including regulatory sandboxes and certification programs. A companion database of 100 use cases from the trial is also released to aid in the adoption of AI tools in legal aid work.

How Generative AI Is Used to Fight Miscarriages of Justice at The California Innocence Project, Forbes, Bernard Marr, October 6, 2023

The article explores how the California Innocence Project (CIP) leverages Generative AI to tackle wrongful convictions. Partnering with CaseText and OpenAI, they developed CoCounsel, a tool that hastens legal document review and other tasks, freeing up time for legal professionals. The automation of mundane tasks like drafting letters has been notably expedited. Though it's early to gauge the precise impact, there's optimism that this AI application will enable handling more cases and possibly overturning more wrongful convictions in the future. The article also delves into the broader implications of Generative AI in the legal realm, hinting at a transformative potential. By automating routine tasks and aiding in research, it's posited that Generative AI could reduce legal service costs, making justice more accessible. This initiative embodies a forward-thinking approach to integrating AI in legal processes, showcasing a tangible path towards enhanced efficiency and justice rectification​.

What If AI Is Actually WORSE For Access To Justice?, Above the Law, July 20, 2023

The article raises concerns about the potential negative impact of AI on access to justice. While AI technologies offer benefits like efficiency and cost reduction, they may inadvertently exacerbate existing inequalities in the legal system. The article argues that reliance on AI could lead to a lack of human empathy and understanding, especially for vulnerable populations with unique needs. Moreover, AI-driven solutions might not consider the full scope of legal issues faced by individuals, potentially excluding essential aspects of their cases. The article urges a cautious approach to ensure AI complements human efforts and does not hinder access to justice.

Access to Justice, AI, and the Legacy of Wheaton v. Peters, RIPS Law Librarian Blog, June 27, 2023 

The U.S. Supreme Court case Wheaton v. Peters established that U.S. legal information is free and not subject to copyright. This ruling has allowed private companies to innovate and improve legal research tools. However, the increasing volume of case law and rising use of AI in legal work have made commercial databases critical, but costly, for legal research. This could limit legal understanding and access to justice. To address this, governments should provide free, easy access to machine-readable legal information, use clear language in statutes and opinions, and allow experimentation in legal services.

AI And Chatbots Are No Cure-All For Access To Justice, Law360, April 17, 2023

The article discusses how artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots are being developed to provide legal advice and widen access to justice for people who cannot afford lawyers. However, UK legal trade bodies and charities caution that these new tools are no panacea for legal problems. While AI and chatbots can provide basic legal information and advice, they cannot replace the expertise of a qualified lawyer. They may not be able to provide legal advice that is tailored to the specific circumstances of an individual case, understand the nuances of the law, keep up with the latest changes in the law, or provide the same level of confidentiality as a human lawyer. Therefore, it is essential to remember that AI and chatbots should only be used as a starting point for legal research and advice. If a person has a legal problem, consulting with a qualified lawyer is always the best course of action.

I Used ChatGPT to Force my Landlord to Fix My Washer and Dryer, Studyfinds, April 17, 2023

According to the article, a woman in New York City used an artificial intelligence chatbot to successfully compel her landlord to fix her broken washing machine and dryer. The woman, who chose not to disclose her last name, used the chatbot, called ChatGPT, to craft an email to her landlord. The email, which was written in a lawyer-like tone, argued that the landlord was in violation of the tenant's rights by failing to repair the appliances. As a result of the email, the landlord agreed to fix the appliances. The woman's experience highlights the potential of chatbots to be used by tenants to advocate for their rights.

How ChatGPT-4 is Democratizing Access to Legal Information and Resources, TS2, April 11, 2023

ChatGPT-4 is a large language model chatbot developed by OpenAI, which has the potential to democratize access to legal information and resources. It can generate text, translate languages, write different types of creative content and answer questions informatively. One way it makes legal information accessible is by simplifying complex legal jargon and providing users with clear explanations of legal concepts. It can also connect users with lawyers, legal aid organizations, and other legal resources in their area, making it helpful for people who live in rural areas or who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. While ChatGPT-4 is still in its early stages of development, it has the potential to revolutionize access to legal information and resources, providing support and information for people to navigate the legal system.

The Implications of ChatGPT for Legal Services and Society, Andrew M. Perlman, Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, March/April 2023

The article discusses how generative AI is a technology that has the potential to transform the legal profession. It can automate tasks such as legal research and writing, freeing up lawyers to focus on more complex tasks such as providing legal advice and representing clients in court. It can also create new legal services such as online legal advice and automated legal drafting, making legal services more accessible and affordable to those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. However, there are potential risks associated with generative AI, such as the creation of fake legal documents or the generation of false information. To mitigate these risks, it is important to understand both the benefits and risks of this technology. Overall, generative AI is a powerful new technology that can revolutionize the legal profession if used in a way that is beneficial to society.

How ChatGPT Can Help Abuse Survivors Represent Themselves in Court, Fast Company, March 9, 2023

The article describes how researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a tool called "The Survivor's Advocate" that uses ChatGPT to help abuse survivors represent themselves in court. This tool can help survivors prepare for court hearings, write legal documents, and even testify on their own behalf. Although still in development, The Survivor's Advocate has the potential to revolutionize how abuse survivors access justice, ensuring that all survivors have a fair chance at justice. The article discusses the benefits of using ChatGPT for this purpose and the challenges, such as ensuring accuracy and impartiality.

ChatGPT and Other AI Programs Aid and Muddle Access to Justice as Non-Lawyers Seek Their Advice, Jurist, March 7, 2023

According to the article, the use of AI-powered legal chatbots is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it provides basic legal information and advice to those who cannot afford legal representation. But on the other hand, these chatbots are not always reliable or accurate, risking the provision of misleading information. Eliot cautions that AI-powered legal chatbots should not be considered as a substitute for qualified lawyers as they cannot keep up with the latest changes in the law or comprehend its nuances. Although these chatbots are becoming more sophisticated and can provide complex legal information and advice, they are still in their early development stage and cannot match the expertise of a qualified lawyer. As such, Eliot suggests that individuals should seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer for personalized and accurate advice.

Here’s How AI and ChatGPT Tools Can Help Scale Pro Bono Work,, February 14, 2023

The article explains how AI and ChatGPT tools have the potential to revolutionize pro bono work by making legal services more accessible and affordable to people who cannot afford a lawyer. However, it is crucial to use these tools responsibly and be aware of potential risks. For example, The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco uses ChatGPT to help clients with tasks such as filling out forms and finding legal resources. The National Association of Pro Bono Counsel uses AI to identify potential pro bono cases and match lawyers with clients. The University of California, Berkeley, develops a tool that can help abuse survivors represent themselves in court. As AI and ChatGPT continue to develop, we can expect more innovative and effective ways to use them to help people in need.