Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on motherhood in the legal profession, in partnership with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Lindsay Kennedy back to our pages. Click here if you’d like to donate to MothersEsquire.
ChatGPT is the new hotness — that trendy, new thing that everyone is talking about. The most limited resource anyone has is time. Drafting is time-consuming and annoying — so if ChatGPT can use artificial intelligence to help lawyers, no wonder it is generating such buzz. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
First, What Is ChatGPT?
Artificial intelligence. You input a prompt and it outputs content. The ChatGPT system is similar to a website that verifies your login credentials. The process takes less than two minutes the first time. After that, entering the system feels just like entering a website. Then you type in a prompt. I used “reasons why law firms should hire a military spouse.” In about 18 seconds, I had a 452-word article that eloquently details five strong and highly persuasive reasons for law firms to hire military spouses. Stylistically, I needed to spend about .1 seconds to edit it into a blog suitable for publication on my website.
What Are The Risks?
An article generated solely by artificial intelligence is not mine for intellectual property purposes. ChatGPT even states in its terms and conditions that it could generate the same result for other people. With enough manipulation, it can become mine, but I’ll leave that explanation to the IP attorneys.
How Can I Effectively Use ChatGPT?
Playing around with the prompts to see what the machine generates is quite fun. I found that telling it to “draft an article with a personal story about …” worked quite well. The more specific I was, the better the article. For example, the output for “Draft a bedtime story for a 9-year-old” was an adorable story, but the output for “Draft a bedtime story for a 9-year-old about a woman lawyer saving the world” was far more intricate and engaging (Lily the lawyer effectively stopped a corporation from polluting the environment and causing harm to people and animals all over the world by working hard to prove her case to the judge and jury). It’s nice when lawyers can be the heroes!
Detail is key. Describe your target client and have ChatGPT draft an article as to why that person should hire your law firm. Or ask it the places to find your target client.
Its output, as expected, wasn’t useful for legal briefs. So, it seems I won’t be fully replaced just yet. Or maybe I haven’t stumbled across the right prompt.
Should I use ChatGPT?
Absolutely! If you pay someone to generate content for you, you might already be using it. After all, the virtual assistant world is buzzing about it. If you are currently outsourcing, it’s worth examining to see if there is a potential cost-saving measure to your firm to bring it back in-house.
In using the generated content, you also have to decide its best use — do you want to put in the time to make it your intellectual property or not. After all, most personal injury lawyers have social media posts about what a person should do if they are in a car crash — VERY useful content for advertising and generating business. But I would venture a guess that most do not care if they own the intellectual property to that particular content. Since it is so new, the content that I generate and use will have a disclaimer.
The takeaway is that ChatGPT is a useful tool that is well worth using with an understanding of its value. When I briefly worked on coding in artificial intelligence in 2003, I did not fathom such would ever actually be possible. I’m excited to keep playing around with it. I hope it remains free forever and can help elevate us all. In hindsight, I should have had ChatGPT draft this article for me.
Lindsay Kennedy is a freelance attorney doing ghostwriting for attorneys on a wide range of civil litigation cases. She is also a military wife and mom to two elementary-aged daughters. Being a military spouse led her to the creation of Legal Reinforcements, a business that helps law firms hire military spouses as remote legal assistants, paralegals, and attorneys. When she is not drafting briefs or helping military spouses, she enjoys advocating for changes in the legal profession to allow for more non-traditional options so both parents are afforded the opportunity to enjoy their family. Many moons ago, after graduating from Chase College of Law, she clerked for Judge Richard Smoak in the Northern District of Florida and clerked in the Eastern District of Kentucky. She has loved the adventure of military life and enjoyed living abroad for 6 of the last 12 years in Germany and Korea. You can reach her at [email protected].