AI Raises the Bar

What happens when AI successfully passes the bar exam? What does that mean for the legal field, and how does it redefine what a human lawyer does—if at all? These are no longer hypothetical questions, as GPT-4, the latest release of OpenAI's large language model AI, passed a simulated bar exam in the 90th percentile. Researchers had tested an earlier version of GPT (version 3.5) "in late 2022, finding it could not pass any portion of the [Uniform Bar Exam]," a statement from OpenAI reads. "Their forthcoming paper shows that GPT-4, however, passed the multiple-choice portion and both components of the written portion, exceeding not only all prior large language models’ scores, but also the average score of real-life bar exam test takers." So, here we are. Not 3 months later, a computer code is upending the legal profession. Or is it? According to AboveTheLaw, legal tech firm Casetext has released an AI-powered legal assistant called CoCounsel. But CoCounsel is "not about replacing the human that makes the decision, it’s about replacing the write-off hours sending a junior off to slap together drafts." But you still need a human lawyer somewhere in the system, Michael Bommarito, one of the researchers who tasked GPT-4 with the UBE, wrote in a LinkedIn post. He continued: "You can't just send confidential docs straight to ChatGPT. But the future ain't gonna' look like the past.If you have an existing diligence or compliance process today, accelerate it. If you don't have a process or tools yet, it's an incredible moment in time to start 'blank slate.' Either way, regardless of whether you're buy-side, sell-side, compliance, or counsel, it's clear that the world will be changing."

The Verdict

No one can say what the future of AI will be, or how it will change the legal profession. What we can say is that it will. Fundamentally. But whatever those changes bring, its safe to assume that the interpersonal skills of an attorney will always be in demand.