“We have completely banned the use of ChatGPT in our firm,” a law firm partner told me recently.
“How does that work for you?” I asked.
“Our lawyers are probably some of the most experienced Generative AI practitioners around,” he shrugged.
Firms can monitor online traffic and prohibit lawyers from visiting certain domains on office computers. But lawyers can and will continue to experiment with generative AI on their personal devices and at home.
Some may even use tools like ChatGPT for legal work without telling anyone. They could disclose confidential customer information and reveal important information Decisions are based solely on AI analysis without you ever knowing.
The unenforceability alone makes it clear how short-sighted an outright ban on generative AI is. Instead, law firms can benefit from carefully crafting a Acceptable Use Policy to monitor and guide attorneys. Here’s why and how it works.
Bans overlook the many benefits that AI offers
Banning generative AI outright seems like an easy way to avoid the ethical and legal issues it poses. But generative AI can create content, draft and summarize documents, and perform tasks with amazing speed and impressive accuracy. By using generative AI, lawyers can save significant amounts of time and resources while helping to produce high-quality legal work at a lower cost.
Eliminating generative AI from your organization’s toolkit increases the risk of your organization falling behind in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and innovation. A ban also ignores the reality that clients increasingly expect attorneys to use technology to better serve their needs. Seven out of ten internal lawyers recently questioned expect their law firms to use the latest technology, including generative AI tools. Waiting too long or not doing so could impact your business’ ability to stay relevant.
In addition, bans result in AI being used underground and in the dark, where it can be misused. It is better to foster a culture that values and encourages responsible use of AI. A good AI usage policy helps attorneys understand how and when to use generative AI to minimize risk and maximize value.
What Makes a Good AI Acceptable Use Policy?
A comprehensive AI usage policy can help provide much-needed guidance to attorneys and staff. It ensures legal professionals deploy and use AI solutions ethically and transparently, and fosters an open environment for discussing ethical issues, raising concerns and reporting difficulties with AI systems. Such a policy can:
- Clearly define the area of application of generative AI applications in the company.
- Establish requirements for customer privacy and confidentiality.
- Foster discussions with clients about using AI in their cases.
- Require attorneys and staff to be trained on generative AI best practices and ethical considerations.
As the AI field is evolving rapidly, it makes sense to appoint a “policy owner” who will stay abreast of technological advances and regularly update the policy as needed. There are many resources available to help lawyers and firms understand AI and use it ethically and responsibly.
A well-crafted AI policy is an empowerment tool
A well-crafted generative AI policy ensures that your firm’s legal professionals are aware of the ethical guidelines for AI use, including the potential risks and consequences. Its guidance encourages legal professionals to develop and sharpen their technical skills and to be willing to adapt to change – the kind of skills and abilities needed to be competitive in the future.
Their policy promotes compliance with legal and ethical requirements and promotes a culture of competence and integrity. Trained and knowledgeable AI users are better able to make conscientious decisions based on innovative thinking. Adopt a policy-driven approach to reaping the benefits of Generative AI while maintaining the highest level of professionalism and compliance with ethical standards.
Olga V. Mack is Vice President at LexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and has dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She believes that through the use of technology, the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient and more inclusive than before. Olga is also an award-winning General Counsel, Operations Expert, Startup Advisor, Public Speaker, Associate Professor and Entrepreneur. She founded the Women are on boards Movement promoting women’s participation on the boards of Fortune 500 companies. She is an author Get on board: Secure your ticket for a seat on the company’s board of directors, Basics of smart contract securityAnd Blockchain value: transforming business models, society and communities. She is working on Visual IQ for Lawyers, her next book (ABA 2023). You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.