AI in the Law School Classroom – My Experiment

Last semester, with increasing agitation in the media about AI’s potential impact on the legal profession, I decided to wade in and show my students a little AI in my law school classroom. The course is Advanced Legal Research.

The Experiment

I gathered up a list of interesting readings on the topic of AI and the legal profession. Many of them pointed to horror stories or emerging policies and guidelines in the area. Later I decided to record my findings in my AI Regulation LibGuide.

I made all of this available in an optional readings folder.

AI Panel Weighs In

The day of the class, I invited Shaunna Mireau from Alexi and Colin Lachance from Jurisage for a 20 minute virtual discussion about some general issues pertaining to AI and the legal profession.

We tossed around the usual questions such as: “Are the Rules of Professional Conduct ready for this?” and “Are recent court practice directions going in the right direction?” The students appreciated the discussion.

The AI Activity

AI wasn’t really available to show in LRW products at the time. So I approached Alexi and BluJ Legal. I asked for permission to provide the students with screenshots of the prompts process, the outputs and other key info. They generously agreed to let me use some samples. I also pulled content from CCH Answer Connect and from Lexis+ on a fairly straight-forward “failure to remit taxes” corporate liability question.

Analyzing AI

As court practice directions and law society directives are emerging, there is a definite focus on the importance of lawyers verifying AI outputs. So this was an important focus of the activity.

The students were assigned three of these products. (Included in the mix were screenshots of the prompt and output of asking the same question of ChatGPT). They were given a worksheet asking them to compare the products on a variety of questions.

Upshot and Next Steps

The students enjoyed a change of pace in the classroom, and had some good critical observations to make in this process.

Traditionally, I’ve been a librarian champion of the importance of secondary sources. So I was rather shocked to see key info such as “publication date” was not available for the commentary that answered this question on Answer Connect. The case law relied on by the other products was much more up to date. So this reinforced the general importance of checking currency dates for all materials relied on!

Ultimately, the worksheet that I gave to the students was turned into my “Draft AI Guidance for Law Students” LibGuide. This is an open document, and I invite comments on it.

Soon, we should be able to see Lexis+ AI and Thomson Reuters CoCounsel Core in Canada.

We’ll see what happens next! Let’s hope that the product roll-outs and access issues get sorted out in time for my class in the fall of 2024!

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