The legal profession stands on the brink of a technological revolution, with generative artificial intelligence (AI) poised to transform the way legal services are delivered and disputes are resolved. Recognizing the urgency and importance of this shift, the Atlanta International Arbitration Society (ATLAS) and the Charlotte International Arbitration Society (CIAS) recently joined forces to host a landmark event focused on the future of AI within the legal field. This event brought together scholars, attorneys and arbitrators in the field of commercial international law to discuss to discuss the implications of AI and the necessary steps to ensure its responsible integration into the legal system.

Keynote speaker Stacie Strong, Professor of Law at Emory University

The highlight of the event was a compelling lecture by Stacie Strong, acting Professor of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Strong’s presentation delved into the critical need for a structured framework of rules to govern the use of AI in the legal field, with a particular emphasis on international commercial arbitration. She underscored the importance of “staying ahead of the curve” to prevent potentially disastrous outcomes that could undermine the legal system’s integrity.

Professor Strong identified several key issues that must be addressed to ensure the responsible use of AI in legal practice including:

  1. Copyright Concerns: As AI systems increasingly generate legal documents and advice, questions arise about the ownership and protection of these outputs. Professor Strong emphasized the need for clear guidelines to navigate the complex landscape of intellectual property rights in the age of AI;
  2. Privacy Issues: The use of AI in legal practice involves handling vast amounts of sensitive data. Ensuring the privacy and security of this information is paramount. Professor Strong encouraged stringent data protection measures be put in place in order to prevent unauthorized access and potential breaches of confidential information;

To address these challenges, Professor Strong recommended the implementation of comprehensive policies and guidelines that promote ethical AI use. These policies should be designed to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including clients, attorneys, and arbitrators, while fostering innovation and efficiency in legal practice. Indeed, the Biden Administration has also addressed some of AI’s greatest threats to safety and security in the recent Executive Order: Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Key AI Actions Following President Biden’s Landmark Executive Order | The White House.

Following Professor Strong’s lecture, the event transitioned into an engaging discussion session, where attorneys, arbitrators, and other legal professionals shared their perspectives and raised pertinent questions about the future of AI in the legal field.

Attorneys were particularly interested in how generative AI tools would affect their daily interactions with opposing counsel, touching on the potential for AI to streamline legal research, automate routine tasks, and enhance overall efficiency in legal practice. However, concerns were also raised about the ethical implications of relying on AI-generated advice and the need for human oversight to ensure accuracy and fairness. Another related issue of concern is whether it should be required to disclose whether AI was used to aid an attorney in the outputs provided to an arbitrator or the court. And in fact, federal courts are already proposing new rules that would require lawyers to certify the use of AI and represent that the citations and analysis were reviewed and approved “by a human.” See: public-comment-local-rule-32-3-and-form-6 (uscourts.gov)

Another significant topic was the impact of AI on cases involving pro se litigants—individuals representing themselves without an attorney—with participants debating whether AI tools could level the playing field by providing access to legal resources and guidance or create new challenges and disparities.

The evolving role of AI in legal practice is also likely to shape future client expectations, with discussions around clients potentially demanding faster, more cost-effective AI-facilitated services, potentially pressuring legal professionals to adopt and integrate such technologies.

Arbitrators also weighed in, exploring how AI could assist in case management, evidence analysis, and decision-making, while considering the ethical and procedural implications of incorporating AI into the arbitration process.

A Pivotal Moment, A Brave New World

As the event concluded, it was clear that the legal community is at a pivotal moment in its relationship with AI. The insights shared by Professor Strong and the subsequent discussions highlighted both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. By proactively addressing the ethical, legal, and practical issues associated with AI, the legal profession can harness the power of this technology to enhance the delivery of justice and improve the efficiency of legal services.

The collaborative efforts of ATLAS and the CIAS in hosting this event emphasize the importance of ongoing dialogue and education in navigating the AI revolution. As legal professionals continue to explore the potential of AI, it is crucial to develop a balanced approach that safeguards the principles of justice and fairness while embracing innovation.

In the end, the future of AI in the legal field will be shaped by the collective efforts of the legal community to create a framework that promotes responsible and ethical use of technology. At the close of the lecture, as we thanked Professor Strong for her discussion with us, she emphasized the importance of legal organizations and law firms to take the lead in implementing such policies. By staying informed, engaged, and proactive, it is organizations like ours that can ensure that AI serves as a powerful tool for advancing the practice of law and upholding the rule of law in the digital age into this Brave New World.