Re-Regulating UPL in an Age of AI

8 Georgetown Law Technology Review 316 (2024)

22 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2024

See all articles by Ed Walters

Ed Walters

Georgetown University Law Center; Cornell University - Cornell Tech NYC; vLex; Fastcase

Date Written: May 25, 2024


States regulate the Unauthorized Practice of Law as a way to protect consumers from fraudulent, negligent, or incompetent legal services. Although states have not agreed on what specifically constitutes the "practice of law," there has been a broad consensus that if software can do the work, it does not constitute the practice of law. That definition is on a collision course with artificial intelligence tools, which can quickly and inexpensively provide services that historically would qualify as UPL. This Essay suggests that states would do little to protect consumers by enforcing UPL statutes against software developers, that instead private rights of action for fraud, misrepresentation, or negligence would strike a more effective balance to empower assistance to self-represented litigants while still protecting them from harms. At a time when software tools might be used to narrow the access to justice gap, the chilling effect of vague UPL statutes would do little to protect consumers.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Unauthorized Practice of Law, Legal Ethics, Legal Tech

Suggested Citation

Walters, Ed, Re-Regulating UPL in an Age of AI (May 25, 2024). 8 Georgetown Law Technology Review 316 (2024), Available at SSRN:

Ed Walters (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

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Cornell University - Cornell Tech NYC ( email )

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vLex ( email )

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Fastcase ( email )

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