The legal landscape is constantly evolving, and the advent of AI technologies has significantly accelerated the rate of change. One notable technology that has been making waves lately is ChatGPT, an advanced AI chatbot developed by OpenAI.
As I discuss in this article, while this cutting-edge tool has the potential to significantly impact how legal work gets done, it must be used with care. Below you’ll learn what ChatGPT is, its benefits and risks, and the basics of ChatGPT plugins. I’ll also highlight the top 10 ChatGPT plugins that can be particularly beneficial for legal professionals.
What is ChatGPT and why does it matter for lawyers?
ChatGPT is a generative AI conversational chatbot that understands natural language and generates responses to queries based on context awareness. It is designed to streamline communication, research, and information processing. Because of these features, it can be a valuable tool for lawyers and has the potential to dramatically impact the practice of law, saving time and money.
However, despite the many benefits generative AI offers legal professionals, there are also drawbacks to be aware of. For starters, its database is limited to a dataset containing information through 2021. As a result, responses are sometimes based on outdated information.
Additionally, this technology is not a stand-in for legal expertise. It does not replace legal knowledge or negate the ethical requirement of basic competence. A careful review of all work produced using generative AI tools will always be required.
Understanding plugins and how they differ from browser extensions
ChatGPT is a powerful tool when used as a standalone chatbot, but its functionality can be enhanced using browser extensions, which I wrote about in April, or plugins, which I cover in this article.
Both browser extensions and plugins add functionality to a software application, but they differ in their scope and application. A browser extension is a small software module that customizes a web browser. A plugin is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application, enhancing its capabilities.
Recently, ChatGPT released plugins, which are available only to ChatGPT Plus subscribers (online: https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt-plus). Many of the plugins solve the date limitation issue and can be used in conjunction with a ChatGPT conversation to provide further insight, context, and current information. Plugins are available in many different categories including travel, shopping, search, and data summarization and analysis.
Top 10 ChatGPT plugins for lawyers
I’ve had access to plugins for a few weeks now and have experimented with many different types. After scouring through the ChatGPT plugins store, I’ve identified the top 10 plugins that I believe will be particularly useful for legal professionals:
Use ChatGPT plugins responsibly
To fully harness the potential of ChatGPT and its plugins, it’s important to prioritize ethical considerations when using these AI tools. First and foremost, refrain from sharing confidential client data unless you are confident that your queries will be protected and will remain private. Also, keep date and accuracy limitations in mind, and remember that even when GPT-powered tools are incorporated into legal-specific software, thus reducing the number of hallucinations, the potential for error nevertheless remains. Until this technology improves significantly, you will have to carefully review all output for errors.
No matter how you look at it, ChatGPT and its plugins offer a wealth of opportunities for lawyers, allowing them to streamline their work processes, enhance productivity, and stay updated on current events. Through the incorporation of these innovative tools into their daily routine, legal professionals can effectively harness the power of AI technology to the benefit of their practice and their clients by carefully balancing the spirit of innovation and the obligations of professional responsibility.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist and the Head of SME and External Education at MyCase legal practice management software, an AffiniPay company. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for Above the Law, ABA Journal, and The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. She is an ABA Legal Rebel, and is listed on the Fastcase 50 and ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. She can be contacted at [email protected].