A Human Being Wrote This Law Review Article: GPT-3 and the Practice of Law

44 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2021 Last revised: 6 Apr 2022

See all articles by Amy Cyphert

Amy Cyphert

West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2021


Artificial intelligence tools can now “write” in such a sophisticated manner that they fool people into believing that a human wrote the text. None are better at writing than GPT-3, released in 2020 for beta testing and coming to commercial markets in 2021. GPT-3 was trained on a massive dataset that included scrapes of language from sources ranging from the NYTimes to Reddit boards. And so, it comes as no surprise that researchers have already documented incidences of bias where GPT-3 spews toxic language. But because GPT-3 is so good at “writing,” and can be easily trained to write in a specific voice — from classic Shakespeare to Taylor Swift — it is poised for wide adoption in the field of law.

This Article explores the ethical considerations that will follow from GPT-3’s introduction into lawyers’ practices. GPT-3 is new, but the use of AI in the field of law is not. AI has already thoroughly suffused the practice of law. GPT-3 is likely to take hold as well, generating some early excitement that it and other AI tools could help close the access to justice gap. That excitement should nevertheless be tempered with a realistic assessment of GPT-3’s tendency to produce biased outputs.

As amended, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct acknowledge the impact of technology on the profession and provide some guard rails for its use by lawyers. This Article is the first to apply the current guidance to GPT-3, concluding that it is inadequate. I examine three specific Model Rules — Rule 1.1 (Competence), Rule 5.3 (Supervision of Nonlawyer Assistance), and Rule 8.4(g) (Bias) — and propose amendments that focus lawyers on their duties and require them to regularly educate themselves about pros and cons of using AI to ensure the ethical use of this emerging technology.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, GPT-3, law practice, lawyering, bias, legal ethics, Model Rules of Professional Conduct, professional responsiblity

JEL Classification: K00, K10

Suggested Citation

Cyphert, Amy, A Human Being Wrote This Law Review Article: GPT-3 and the Practice of Law (November 1, 2021). UC Davis Law Review, Volume 55, Issue 1, WVU College of Law Research Paper No. 2022-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3973961

Amy Cyphert (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

101 Law School Drive
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

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