Wisconsin Lawyer: Ethics: Artificial Intelligence: How Much Do Lawyers Need to Know?:

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    May
    01
    2020

    Ethics: Artificial Intelligence: How Much Do Lawyers Need to Know?

    Lawyers probably have an ethical obligation, at a minimum, to use AI tools such as public databases for research.

    Dean R. Dietrich

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    Question

    I hear a lot of discussion about the use of artificial intelligence in the practice of law. What does that mean for my practice?

    Answer

    Most lawyers are still trying to figure out how artificial intelligence becomes a part of the practice of law. There has been much discussion about the use of various types of research programs and services to get information about a variety of things, such as court opinions issued by particular judges and the success of arguments raised in various types of motions.

    Dean R. Dietrichcom dietrich dvlawgroup Dean R. Dietrich, Marquette 1977, of the law firm of Dietrich VanderWaal Law Group SC, Wausau, is past chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee.

    Many “providers” are selling services involving research programs that lawyers can use to help in the representation of a client. Questions are being raised about the need for all lawyers to have a background or understanding of how artificial intelligence and online resources will help in providing information that a lawyer can use when representing a client.

    These questions are far from being resolved, but two points need to be recognized:

    • Every lawyer already uses some level of artificial intelligence regularly. Using Google to search about a lawyer on the other side of a case or background information regarding an arbitrator is just one form of artificial intelligence that a lawyer uses to represent a client. Similarly, using the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website and other court services to get information about a case is another type of artificial intelligence that helps a lawyer prepare for a representation.

    • Lawyers need to continue to learn and understand how to use these types of research programs and search engines to obtain background information and information that can be used as part of the representation of a client. While some techniques are very simple, lawyers must understand which types of information are available through electronic research and internet information and use that information whenever possible to assist in gathering data for representation of a client.

    Artificial intelligence continues to evolve, and so too do its effects on the practice of law. But it is clear that lawyers need to understand what information is available and accessible through various electronic resources and then how to use that information in representing a client. More information and data will become accessible, which means that lawyers will have to continue to keep abreast of technology as part of the practice of law.

    Lawyers must understand which types of information are available through electronic research and internet information and use that information whenever possible to assist in gathering data for representation of a client.



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