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Artificial Intelligence in Legal Education: Fast, but not Consistently Better

Summary

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help law students complete tasks faster, but their results are not consistently better than those using traditional methods, according to a new study. The research conducted by two law professors from the University of Minnesota and […]

Artificial Intelligence in Legal Education: Fast, but not Consistently Better

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help law students complete tasks faster, but their results are not consistently better than those using traditional methods, according to a new study. The research conducted by two law professors from the University of Minnesota and one law professor from the University of Southern California reveals that students with lower grades on average achieved greater improvements in their legal writing tasks using AI than their higher academic achiever counterparts. These results indicate that the use of AI can vary depending on the user’s abilities and the type of legal task being performed.

The study titled “Practicing Law in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” suggests that generative AI is likely to become an essential tool for many lawyers in the future. Challenging established players like Westlaw, Lexis, and ediscovery software, AI will enable more efficient processing of legal documentation and the provision of higher-quality services to clients.

Researchers recruited 60 law students from the University of Minnesota to undergo several hours of training on the GPT-4 AI model and then perform four different writing tasks: drafting a complaint, contract, employee handbook section, and internal client memo. Each participant used AI for two of these tasks while completing the other two without AI. The tasks were then evaluated.

The study showed that, except for the task of drafting contracts, AI did not result in statistically significant improvements. However, participants significantly reduced the time required to complete the tasks when using AI. For example, students who used AI for drafting complaints spent an average of 32% less time on that task.

Based on the research findings, it is recommended that law schools prohibit the use of generative AI in foundational first-year courses and exams, partly due to this technology disproportionately benefiting students with lower grades. Nevertheless, advanced courses should be developed to teach students how to effectively utilize AI in practice.

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