In June, a federal judge fined two New York accident lawyers for submitting fake legal histories in documents supporting aviation injury claims. Lawyers blamed artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT for developing bogus judicial opinions and citations.
For some time now, AI-assisted technologies like ChatGPT have been changing industries across the board, including the legal profession.
With its ability to process vast amounts of data beyond the capabilities of mere humans, AI helps lawyers when it comes to electronic discovery, vastly speeding up the process of gathering, exchanging and reviewing information related to specific cases — especially when it involves hundreds of Review of documents.
Law practices also use AI tools for document management, due diligence, litigation analysis, etc. For example, litigation analytics by judge, firm, etc. are available at sites like Lex Machine. Other AI tools help with research tasks, even review lawyers’ draft briefs and suggest new cases.
Now, at USC Gould, AI is becoming more present in the classroom both as a curriculum and as a teaching tool.
“Probably a quarter of the USC Law faculty is experimenting with ChatGPT in the classroom,” says the professor. d. Daniel SokolCarolyn Craig Franklin Chair in Law and Professor of Law and Business.
“The general-purpose technology of AI is being applied across fields of law and to various functions within law,” adds Sokol. “And like most law schools, we have offerings here and there that focus on AI-related issues, but not broadly.
“We are now trying to achieve this with our curriculum. The idea is to create a greater sense of coherence both in our existing course offerings and what we need to do to fill AI-related vacancies.”
Two new AI offerings
In May 2023, USC Gold began offering Master of Science in Innovation Economics, Law and Regulation (MIELR)..
The joint course with the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Department of Economics is a STEM-designed course about big data and machine-learning innovation through the lens of antitrust privacy, data protection, and intellectual property law.
And now a new AI minor for undergrads is in the works.
“It will be the first course of its kind, if not the first,” says Sokol.
Undergraduate students began enrolling in data analytics classes this fall to apply for the new minor, which is expected to begin in spring 2024. Students in the JD program will also be able to enroll in the new data analytics course in 2024.
“We want to be thought leaders in the AI space – innovators on the education and research side,”
Many questions remain
How big has AI gotten?
No greater authority than Pope Francis has come out with a warning about the need to be vigilant about its use, saying it must be used ethically. He specifically called out the fields of education and law in remarks he made this summer.
“The Catholic Church has 1.2 billion people under its jurisdiction,” notes Sokol. “For most of these people, these guidelines are like binding law, even though they are not binding law.”
Professor Jeff PerlmanDirector of Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic (IPTLC) at USC and a clinical associate professor of law says AI touches vast areas of law.
“Certainly, IP is a big one,” says Perlman, noting the recent flurry of lawsuits involving AI and intellectual property.
Perlman says at least one person has filed a patent application on behalf of AI as sole inventor. The US Patent and Trademark Office rejected the concept. The same person also tried to register a copyright on behalf of the AI tool. Both the Copyright Office and a federal court rejected that request, stating that human authorship was required. But the extent to which human invention or authorship is necessary is still an open question.
Regulation remains a big question when it comes to AI and the law, Perlman and Sokol agree. Central Regulation Vs. Questions about companies relying on self-regulation have been asked in many areas of law, and are now being considered in the context of AI, the professors say.
“It’s both old and new at the same time,” Sokol says. For now, USC Gold will focus on the best ways to equip its students to answer these and other questions when it comes to AI.
Says Sokol: “We’re trying to make AI more relevant so that faculty and students understand the value and issues of this technology when it comes to legal processes and outcomes—both costs and benefits.
“AI is important now and it’s more important, so we have to get ahead of this.”
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