Florida Lawyers on AI — insights from 2024 Florida Bar Membership Opinion Survey – The Florida Bar

5 minutes, 22 seconds Read

While 32% of Florida lawyers say their level of understanding of generative artificial intelligence is either “excellent or good,” few actually use it . . . at least not yet.

In an era marked by the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, The Florida Bar’s 2024 Membership Opinion Survey delved into the frequency with which Florida lawyers use various generative AI applications and what impact they think it will have on the profession going forward.

A full 80% of those surveyed say they do not use generative AI in their legal practices, signaling a significant gap between recognition and implementation in this technologically evolving field.

Only 11% of respondents said they frequently or occasionally use ChatGPT, and the numbers for using other AI platforms drop off from there, such as Microsoft Bing (6%), Lexis+ AI (4%), CaseText (3%), Google Bard (less than 3%), LegalZoom AI Predict (less than 2%), LexMachina (less than 2%), Luminance (0%), and other generative AI programs (6%).

Those who report using AI in their practices says they do so for:

  • Legal research and analysis, 11%
  • Drafting documents, 5%
  • Case analysis, 4%
  • Summarize documents, 4%
  • Automated client communication, 3%
  • Risk assessment and prediction, <1%

The most frequently mentioned items under the “Other” category involve drafting emails and letters.

The 2024 Membership Opinion Survey was emailed to 3,140 randomly selected Bar members, and 23% of the surveys were returned, with an error of estimation rate of just over 3% at the 95% level of confidence.

Eighty-two percent of respondents predict generative AI will significantly impact the legal profession in the next five to 10 years and 79% say it should be “very closely regulated in the legal profession.”

Additionally, around two-thirds of respondents have major concerns about the use of AI in legal practice (70%) and do not trust AI systems, even with lawyer oversight, to make important decisions (63%).

“AI can do a lot, but it is still wrong at times and cannot replace the critical thinking ability and manner of explanation for clients,” one survey respondent said. “For basic drafting that is then reviewed, verified, and edited by an attorney, AI could be useful.”

Another respondent replied, “We can’t even begin to comprehend the changes that will be forthcoming with this type of technology. We will have to question EVERYTHING.”

In a groundbreaking move, the Board of Governors in January unanimously endorsed Advisory Opinion 24-1, setting ethical guidelines for the use of AI in the profession. Crafted collaboratively by the Board of Governors, in consultation with the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics, the Special Committee on AI Tools and Resources, and members of The Florida Bar, the advisory marks a pioneering initiative aimed at addressing emerging challenges generative AI presents in the legal landscape.

Among other things, the opinion recommends that a lawyer obtain the “affected client’s informed consent prior to utilizing a third-party generative AI program if the utilization would involve the disclosure of any confidential information.”

A section of the opinion, “Oversight of Generative AI,” begins with a warning — “Lawyers who rely on generative AI for research, drafting, communication, and client intake risk many of the same perils as those who have relied on inexperienced or overconfident nonlawyer assistants.”

t concludes: “In sum, a lawyer may ethically utilize generative AI but only to the extent that the lawyer can reasonably guarantee compliance with the lawyer’s ethical obligations.”

Those obligations, according to the conclusion, include “the duties to confidentiality, avoidance of frivolous claims and contentions, candor to the tribunal, truthfulness in statements to others, avoidance of clearly excessive fees and costs, and compliance with restrictions on advertising for legal services.”

Few survey respondents (5%) report encountering any cases in which the authenticity of digital evidence was questionable due to the potential use of AI or deepfakes.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they were aware of Rule 2.515 of the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, which sets forth the certification requirements for attorneys filing legal documents.

However, 60% of respondents said they were “completely unaware” of AI detection tools for authenticating digital evidence. Furthermore, 56% said they were “completely unaware” of blockchain verification; digital watermarking, 45%; and the potential impact of AI-generated deepfakes on the integrity of evidence in legal proceedings, 42%.

The survey also found 70% of respondents say they are slightly unaware or completely unaware as to whether  “Florida rules governing the admissibility of evidence adequately address the challenges posed by deepfakes.”

But a notable 40% of respondents express interest in deepening their understanding of generative AI and its potential applications within the legal field.

When asked how they envision the future role of lawyers with the increasing integration of generative AI in the legal profession, the responses ran the gamut from optimistic acceptance to apprehensive skepticism, including:

  • “I am of the opinion that attorneys will be less overworked, at the expense of being less ”
  • “I’m worried about the legal competence of attorneys who believe AI is a tool that will help them; that viewpoint indicates an inability to perform the necessary legal research required for their profession.”
  • “AI will not replace lawyers, but lawyers will need to adopt and integrate AI into their practice if they want to stay relevant.”
  • “Eventually AI will be able to break everything down to percentages. Much like how analytics help with baseball and allowing a manager to know where to place the defense, all of the evidence can, and will, be entered into a program and that information can be provided, as to case law, rulings, percentages of those rulings, potential objections and percentages on those objections, past verdicts, and percentages on those verdicts. Basically, all the data can be inputted and out comes the likelihood of winning and losing, dollar amount or sentence, case law to use, potential objections and so on.”
  • “As it is, a large number of lawyers don’t know how, or are too lazy, to research or write effectively. AI will make it worse.”
  • “Gen AI will assist with the more menial tasks and free up attorneys’ time to actually ‘think’ and strategize for their clients, increasing time for client interaction and reducing human hours spent on those tasks, which can only help the perception that attorneys are effective advocates for citizens’ rights and not chasing that hourly billable.”
  • “I suspect lawyers will function more like social workers as AI supports our technical I expect the Bar to increase and adapt rules of professional conduct, increase the Bar’s ability to investigate alleged violations, and significantly increase penalties for unethical acts in order to deter.”

Or, as one respondent summed it up, “It is too early to tell.”

This post was originally published on this site

Similar Posts