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Why lawyers will excel at using ChatGPT

In today's evolving legal landscape, ChatGPT and other emerging tech will continue to make waves across the profession. But while some lawyers are hesitant around this tech, they will excel at using it.

user iconLawCPD 06 March 2024 Careers
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When lawyers hear about generative AI tools like ChatGPT, you get one of three typical messages. The first is that you need to be ‘good with technology’ to use ChatGPT and other generative AI tools – but this isn’t a skillset most lawyers would identify with. The second is that you need to learn how to use generative AI or risk being left behind, which just creates anxiety for most lawyers (see point one). The final message is that if you do use AI you will probably make a mistake – and possibly gaining international notoriety, like these unfortunate lawyers who used ChatGPT to generate fake cases they included in submissions to the court.

The truth is that lawyers are probably the best placed professionals on the planet to effectively leverage ChatGPT and similar tools. Why? Because ChatGPT and the foundational technologies it relies on all focus on language. In fact, ChatGPT’s primary function is to process and generate human language. It can create coherent, contextually relevant and even creative content based on input from humans.

However, the quality of this output relies heavily on the input from the human. And it is language – not technology – that lies at the heart of this skill.


That’s why lawyers will excel with using ChatGPT – because they have a deep understanding of how to use language, refine it, tailor it to different audiences and work with it within set limits.

Lawyers love language

Lawyers love the nuances and intricacies of language. Countless hours are often spent arguing over the varying interpretations of a single sentence, word or comma in a statute or contract. It’s this level of attention to detail that makes lawyers ideal to draft the input – or prompts – for generative AI tools like ChatGPT. You understand the shades of meaning in different words, and weigh them carefully before continuing to write.

Lawyers aren’t afraid to iterate and refine

Lawyers aren’t afraid to rework what they have written. Whether you are incorporating feedback from an opposing party, your client or wrangling your text to fit within the page limit for specific court filings – you aren’t afraid to tirelessly iterate and refine written work. Your ability – and patience – to amend and iterate on the input (or prompt) you give to a generative AI tool is a strength you can leverage to improve the accuracy and relevance of the output given.

Lawyers match their audience

Lawyers understand how to tailor language to suit different audiences. The way you draft submissions to the court is (hopefully) completely different to how you would write an email to a client. Understanding the importance of who your audience is means you are more likely to write your prompts for generative AI in a way which takes this into account. For example, “create a summary of [legal topic] tailored for a non-legal audience” or “create a step-by-step guide for [legal process] for a junior lawyer” – using your legal expertise to verify the accuracy of the output.

Lawyers are master instructors

Lawyers are constantly writing instructions – for counsel, for clients, for junior lawyers, and more. The more experience you have with writing instructions, the deeper your appreciation for the value of clarity, detail and understanding the desired result when you write your instructions. Exactly the same principles apply to generative AI. You need to understand the result you are looking for and then write a prompt asking for this in a way which is clear and sufficiently detailed. So you would intuitively understand why the prompt “draft a short summary of [legal topic] for a paralegal using only legal sources” would be much more likely to generate your desired output than something like “tell me about [legal topic]”.

But what about the technology bit?

There’s an assumption that lawyers need to be ‘good with technology’ to understand how to use ChatGPT and other generative AI tools – and that if you don’t have this skill you’ll make embarrassing mistakes. This is not true. What you actually need is something that most lawyers have in spades – the ability to research, understand and internalise the rules and limitations applicable to a particular topic. You just need to apply this to learning what the rules and limitations applicable to lawyers are in using generative AI. Thankfully, there are multiple resources produced by regulators both in Australia and overseas which can help you understand this better.

Lawyers have an intricate knowledge of the rules, laws and limitations applicable to their chosen area of practice. There is no reason they cannot apply these same skills to learn the strengths and limitations of generative AI.

Master generative AI and get CPD compliant

Enrol in LawCPD’s new course Generative AI for Lawyers to get a practical overview of what GenAI is, how lawyers can use it in their day-to-day practice, and key pitfalls to avoid. You’ll also get to discover our brand-new AI-powered learning activity - what could be a better way to learn about GenAI?

If you need more than one point, this course is also included in our best-selling 10-point compliance pack ‘One-Click CPD Pack for All Lawyers’ or discover our full range of interactive CPD courses at