Attys Ditch ChatGPT, Develop Custom Generative AI Tools

The rise of ChatGPT has inspired a few attorneys to create their own generative artificial intelligence tools for the legal profession, resulting in lawyer-focused spins on this transformative technology that could simplify certain attorney tasks.

Released by the research company OpenAI on Nov. 30, ChatGPT is a generative AI tool that can quickly write documents and answer questions like a human. The technology can write short stories, pen poems, give advice and brainstorm ideas for blog post headlines.

Some lawyers are starting to use ChatGPT and similar generative AI tools for basic legal tasks such as brainstorming opening statements for trials and redlining contracts.

But a few attorneys are taking things further by creating their own legal tools influenced by ChatGPT.

Connor James, an Australia-based attorney with the law firm Law Quarter and the software company Compliance Quarter, created a generative AI tool called Titan Pilot that helps regulatory compliance managers and executives in the energy sector.

Unlike ChatGPT, Titan Pilot is specifically designed for energy laws. The tool lists references to legal sources and helps users understand complex regulations in energy, which is the law that James practices.

Since creating Titan Pilot in late 2022, James has tested it by feeding the tool with the same questions that he is often asked by clients.

"A lot of the time the system will do the same job, and in a number of instances a better job than what I did by myself," James told Law360 Pulse.

Liam Gill, a Canada-based lawyer who previously sold a software company, customized his own version of ChatGPT that is able to write clauses and search contract data. The tool was built through databases that Gill fed to the platform.

"It removes the need for almost a first-year associate to go and spend two, three hours looking for a specific term," Gill told Law360 Pulse.

And it's not just lawyers who are creating custom generative AI apps in legal.

Louisiana Judge Scott U. Schlegel had a custom generative AI chatbot developed through the no-code legal software company LawDroid. The tool, which was released on a pilot basis in January, currently provides information about Louisiana state courts such as parking details and hearing schedules.

Judge Schlegel told Law360 Pulse that the idea for this app was difficult to get off the ground because "there are no such things as technologists in courthouses."

Now the combination of no-code and generative AI is making such ideas a reality.

The Development of Legal ChatGPT

When OpenAI released ChatGPT in November, James envisioned a tool that would change the legal sector. But the latest iteration of ChatGPT is not suitable for legal advice because it is still limited to data through 2021. So James began creating Titan Pilot in December as generative AI that is capable of answering legal questions.

James, who previously released contract review and compliance tools for clients, has had application programming interface, or API, access to OpenAI's platform since 2020.

He developed Titan Pilot himself by feeding it documents containing energy laws. Instead of using ChatGPT as the foundation for Titan Pilot, James built it on Davinci, another text model created by OpenAI. The tool also uses semantic search, which searches data to find meaning, as opposed to lexical search, which only looks for literal matches of words.

James says that the tool is able to answer specific legal questions in the energy sector, such as about regulations on installing a solar farm in a specific jurisdiction, along with a list of legal references. He hopes that the tool can contribute to the industry's transition to renewable energy.

Since Dec. 28, James has devoted three-quarters of his time during the day to work on the development of Titan Pilot. In order to do that, he turned away new clients for his law firm and is only focusing on existing law firm clients until the end of March.

"I think it's only a matter of time before knowledge-trained AI systems are generally available," James said. "I think that I've probably got six months to sort of capitalize in a particular niche domain, and it's not every day that opportunities come along like that for somebody without the resources of most to be able to develop something that's more unique and to release it to the market."

Gill, who built the contract generative AI tool, has also had access to OpenAI's technology for over two years. He built his version of ChatGPT on OpenAI's Playground, a web-based tool that uses the GPT-3 language model from OpenAI.

Along with a friend who specializes in AI, Gill fed his ChatGPT with hundreds of contracts that either he wrote or found for free on the web. This was done to train the platform about how lawyers write contracts.

Gill says that his version of ChatGPT is already more efficient at searching legal contracts than Law Insider, which is a subscription-based contract database.

He's had the idea of developing an AI tool to replace other technologies in his legal practice for some time and started working on the tool in September 2022.

"As a sole practitioner … you end up in situations where it's nice to bounce ideas off of people, and it's much easier for me just to have a robot that I could talk to than it is to have to call up somebody I used to work with and have a chat," Gill said.

Although Gill's version of ChatGPT won't be released commercially, there are plans to work on a similar tool for consumers who need legal contract help for low-cost matters.

Still in Progress

Judge Schlegel said that he is happy with the current pilot of his chatbot, but wants to fine-tune it and "dumb it down a bit" because he finds that it provides users with too much information sometimes.

"It provides such a sophisticated answer," Judge Schlegel said. "We have to remember that it's a tool, not a lawyer."

James' Titan Pilot tool is still in beta, and he recently gave a client in the energy sector access to test it out. There's a waitlist for other clients to test the tool. The long-term vision is to train Titan Pilot in the laws of other sectors, such as health care and taxes.

Although the margin of error in the tool is 5% to 10%, James said that it can still dramatically speed up the research phase for a lawyer and help verify certain answers.

James said that lawyers don't have to learn how to develop their own ChatGPT tools. Instead, he suggests that they reflect on how their work could improve with this technology.

Gill said that attorneys should embrace generative AI technology as a useful tool now. That includes developing the tool for tasks such as legal research, or as a starting point for drafting a contract.

The alternative is to wait for the technology companies to come into the legal space with their own ideas.

"Do you want to start adopting the technology today, integrating into practices and moving the industry forward under the guidance of current lawyers, or do you want to wait five years for this technology to improve ten-, twentyfold and then have a technologist come in and disrupt the industry?" Gill said.

He added, "Lawyers can evolve with the technology and stay in charge of sort of safekeeping the law … or you can have someone who has no legal training, who has potentially no respect for the legal system, who doesn't view lawyers as having any sort of role in society or positive impact or doesn't value the education that lawyers have, and who comes in and tries to replace the entire industry with an AI."

--Editing by Robert Rudinger.

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