ChatGPT for lawyers: 4 use cases for legal teams

August 29, 2023
Want to know how in-house lawyers are using ChatGPT in 2023? This guide covers popular use cases, risks and best practices.

ChatGPT quickly became one of the fastest-growing applications in history, with over 100 million monthly users by February 2023. Since then, generative AI has been adopted by businesses across the globe, with all professions applying it in some way or another. 

Lawyers are no exception. In fact, our recent Tech GC Report revealed that over half (55 per cent) of the legal professionals surveyed either already use, or intend to use, generative AI in the future.

Juro interviewed 105 in-house lawyers about their use of generative AI.

However, many lawyers are naturally cautious about rolling out ChatGPT in their business - and they have reason to be. 

There’s a difference between being cautious and rejecting innovation, though. With Goldman Sachs estimating that almost half of legal tasks can be automated with AI, businesses that fail to leverage generative AI effectively will risk falling behind. 

Legal teams who successfully harness the power of generative AI will have a material competitive advantage over those who don't - Daniel Glazer, London Office Managing Partner, Wilson Sonsini

In this guide, we’ll explore how lawyers can use ChatGPT safely and to their advantage. We’ll cover use cases and top tips, as well as some of the risks that need mitigating along the way.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing to respond to questions and generate content for users. 

ChatGPT is also referred to as a form of generative AI. This means that it can create text, imagery, and even audio. As a result, ChatGPT can be applied across a variety of different legal processes. 

ChatGPT for lawyers: 4 common use cases

As we just mentioned, ChatGPT can be used to streamline and automate various legal processes. However, the most common use cases are ones where lawyers typically spend a lot of their time completing repetitive, manual admin work.

Contract drafting

One of the most popular use cases of ChatGPT for lawyers is contract drafting. With the right prompts and context, ChatGPT can be used to generate robust, professionally-worded contracts and clauses in a matter of seconds.

This application makes it much faster (and easier) for legal teams to draft standard contracts. It also allows legal teams to focus on the more complex, high-value contracts that carry the most risk.

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Document review and analysis

Lawyers can also use ChatGPT to review their business contracts. For example, they can prompt ChatGPT to identify the key legal risks within a contract. This use case can reduce the time they spend manually reviewing contracts and allow them to focus on mitigating this risk instead.

Legal teams can also prompt ChatGPT to extract the key information within a contract, and ask ChatGPT to create contract summaries or abstracts. This functionality makes it easier to surface important obligations, dates and terms from otherwise lengthy documents.

Discover how AI can empower your business to review and analyze contracts more efficiently in our guides to AI contract review software.

Research and discovery

Lawyers can leverage ChatGPT when conducting legal research, too. For example, legal teams can ask ChatGPT to find and share relevant cases, statutes and legal principles. They can also request summaries of these things, making it quicker and easier to understand the legal landscape.

The only problem with this use case is that date limitations on the AI's training mean that legal cases and statutes from the past two years won't always be accessible. However, we'll cover this limitation in more detail later in this article.

Stakeholder communication 

ChatGPT can also be used to summarize legal documents and present these summaries in a format that can be shared easily with other stakeholders. 

For example, you can prompt ChatGPT to create a contract summary and present it in an email format, ready to be sent to your CEO, or CFO. You can even specify how long you want the email to be and what tone you’d like it to take.

To find out more about how businesses and law firms are using AI to streamline different legal processes, check out this comprehensive guide to legal AI.

How lawyers can use ChatGPT more effectively 

There's little value in knowing when to use AI if you don't also know how to use it effectively. That's why we've pulled together a few tips and tricks to help you get the most value from ChatGPT, and other AI-enabled tools.

1. Specify your output format 

Firstly, you need to tell ChatGPT exactly what format you want your output to take

For example, if you want the AI to create a contract summary that can be shared with the CEO, make sure you specify how you plan to communicate the information too. 

Will it be via a short email, or do you want to share a one-page outline? Specifying this information in your prompt means that the output will be more aligned with your expectations. 

We encourage those using Juro's legal AI assistant, which interacts with GPT, to do the same thing:

I tend to prompt AI Assistant to structure its output in an email to the relevant leader - again, a great way of using AI to save yourself some time - Michael Haynes, General Counsel, Juro

2. Assign a role in your prompt

It’s also useful to assign a role in your prompt as this will determine the tone, detail and perspective of the response provided by ChatGPT. 

If you’re using ChatGPT to draft contracts or clauses, for example, it’s useful to assign the role of a commercial lawyer in a certain jurisdiction and type of business. This context will improve the relevance of the output. 

Similarly, you can specify whether you are a supplier or buyer when generating a vendor agreement. This information can determine who the terms are drafted in favor of and what needs to be considered. 

As a general rule, the more context you provide, the better. This extra information helps to refine the output that’s delivered and minimize the need to re-prompt.

3. Apply your playbooks

If you have internal playbooks for legal processes, like contract playbooks, you should consider sharing these with ChatGPT.

Providing this information will ensure that the output from ChatGPT reflects your guardrails, risk appetite, and approved terms, without you having to specify these each time.

Not only will this improve the accuracy of the responses you receive, but it will also make the prompting process faster and more efficient as you've already set your parameters.

Again, this is something that we encourage Juro users to do when using AI Assistant.

Juro’s AI Assistant has a handy ‘AI playbook’ feature, which allows users to set context and parameters at a template level for subsequent prompts. You don’t need to know how to code - it’s all based on natural language.


4. Avoid ambiguity where possible

ChatGPT prompts that include unclear or ambiguous phrasing can result in inaccurate or unsatisfactory responses. To gain the most value from ChatGPT, lawyers should:

  • Be specific and precise. When formulating your questions and prompts, provide as much detail as possible and clearly define the scope of your query. Tell ChatGPT exactly what you want the response to deliver. 
  • Avoid generalizations. Refrain from using broad, general statements that can be interpreted differently. If a term does have different meanings, try explaining your interpretation of a term.
  • Break down complex questions. If your question is multi-faceted, try to separate it into separate parts and address each part individually. This will reduce the risk of it being misinterpreted and ensure that all aspects of the question are answered properly. 

For more tips and advice on how to optimize your prompts, check out this guide to legal prompt engineering in 2024.

5. Review all outputs thoroughly 

Lawyers will be relieved to know that ChatGPT won’t be replacing them any time soon. While it can be an excellent resource, it doesn't replace legal expertise and should be used as a tool to complement lawyers’ skills instead. This means that lawyers still need to review outputs to mitigate the risk of costly errors. 

This doesn't render ChatGPT or generative AI useless, though. ChatGPT can still automate the bulk of the work, you just need to apply your expertise when verifying the output.

ChatGPT limitations for lawyers - and how to respond to them 

ChatGPT isn’t perfect, and there are a few reasons why legal teams have been slow to adopt the popular tool compared to other professions. Let’s explore a few of these AI-related risks, and how you can respond to them, now. 

1. Possibility of hallucinations 

ChatGPT is great at delivering information, but it’s impossible to guarantee that this information will be accurate all of the time. Like humans, ChatGPT can make mistakes and produce errors. These errors are known as hallucinations. 

However, you shouldn't let this possibility deter you from using ChatGPT to improve your legal processes.

It just means that you should manage your expectations and sense-check the responses. The vast majority of responses will be accurate, so there's still a lot of value to be gained from using ChatGPT as a lawyer.

2. Risk of breaching confidentiality 

As with any tool, there’s the risk that the data you provide won’t be protected or kept confidential. With AI solutions like ChatGPT, there’s also the fear that the data you provide will be used to train the AI further, and the subsequent risk that it’ll be shared with others.

This is completely avoidable, though. It just means that you need to evaluate AI contract tools more thoroughly to ensure that they meet your expectations when it comes to security and compliance. 

If you are buying an AI-enabled tool, ask yourself (and the vendor) the following questions: 

  1. Will I need to submit personal and confidential data within the platform?
  2. Where is the information you submit stored, how is it processed, and for what purposes? 
  3. What does the platform do to eliminate the risk of breaching confidentiality? Are these measures sufficient and compliant?
  4. What are the platform’s broader security credentials like? Do you trust them?

This concern was front of mind for us when we were building Juro’s AI contract collaboration platform. It’s why we built Juro’s new AI feature with privacy in mind

We offer EEA hosting for our interaction with GPT and have ensured that contracts and prompts are not sent to train LLMs. In addition to this, Juro is already SOC2 Type 2 compliant and holds the IASME certification for GDPR compliance so our data processes are already at the gold standard.

3. Date limitations in LLMs

ChatGPT is trained using a large language model (LLM), and lots of LLMs have a cut-off date. At the time of writing this, ChatGPT’s data is limited up to 2021.

This means that the chatbot won’t have access to or awareness of legal developments after that date. In other words, ChatGPT won’t be useful for keeping up to date with new legislation, news stories, and recent commercial developments. 

Certain ChatGPT plugins can be used to plug these knowledge gaps. However, few of these have been designed with legal teams and use cases in mind so far.

The best thing lawyers can do to address this limitation is decide what they can comfortably automate in ChatGPT - and what they can't.

Contract management processes are a good example of a ChatGPT use case that won't be impacted by the date limitation.

Legal research, on the other hand, will. This simply means that lawyers will need to need to dedicate more time to conducting their own research and reviewing the outputs for this use case.

Should lawyers be using ChatGPT?

There's an increasing pressure for businesses to do more with less, and in-house legal teams aren't exempt from these expectations.

75 per cent of respondents say legal headcount is frozen or decreasing, but 73 per cent say their companies are projected to grow up to or more than 2x this year.

This means that AI platforms like ChatGPT have come at the right time, enabling legal teams to do more with less and maximise use of existing resources.

By automating routine admin tasks, legal teams can focus their time and efforts on strategic, high-impact work. This means that lawyers who successfully harness the power of generative AI will have a material competitive advantage over those who don't.

Lawyers need to make sure they stay on the front foot or we’re going to get left behind - Caroline Iroegbu, General Counsel, Clarity

ChatGPT for lawyers: how to get ahead

To get (and stay) ahead, legal teams need to be proactive about legal automation. They need to identify the to find the time-consuming, low-value admin tasks and automate them.

Contract management processes are a great place to start, with EY stating that inefficient contracting processes have slowed revenue and resulted in lost business 57 per cent of the organizations they surveyed.

To find out more about how Juro’s AI-powered contract collaboration platform can transform how you manage contracts, hit the button below for your personalized demo.

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