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Exploring the Future of Legal Work: AI Summarization

Exploring the Future of Legal Work: AI Summarization


The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is fundamentally changing the way we interact with technology. With various AI models providing unprecedented tools for intelligent systems, it has become exponentially easier to perform complex tasks with minimal time and effort. Chat GPT, an AI language model, is at the forefront of this technological revolution. Based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, Chat GPT has been trained on over 45 terabytes of text data, and its performances have been astonishing. The AI language model currently surpasses human intelligence with an approximate IQ of 147, passing the LSAT and bar exams.

The applications of AI spread across a wide range of disciplines. Over the next ten weeks, we will explore how generative AI can empower lawyers, paralegals, and the legal system at large. While there are multiple generative AI tools, including GetGenie and Bard, this paper will focus primarily on ChatGPT, though similar structures and logic of the prompts can be applied to other platforms.

Legal professionals spend hours reading and summarizing important legal information from extensive research. Summarization is critical to understanding the legal conflict and effectively communicating with others involved in the legal case. Examples of legal texts lawyers and paralegals may encounter daily include but are not limited to legal documents, case laws, statutes and regulations, legal treatises and commentaries, academic or legal articles, discovery materials, and legal opinions. While the volume and specificity of the text may vary based on the specialization or area of law, there are generally mass amounts of legal texts that require summarization for lawyers and paralegals.

Several benefits of generative AI for summarizing legal research include improved accuracy, enhanced efficiency, and customized summaries. Generative AI, including ChatGPT can save significant amounts of time for lawyers and paralegals, enabling such professionals to present a more thorough and accurate legal analysis and claims.

Chat GPT utilizes a concept known as “prompting,” where the user inputs a “prompt” as a question, request, or query. The AI then outputs a response based on the prompt. While the language model is trained on massive amounts of data, it is critical to formulate optimal prompts to receive precise and helpful responses. Thus, many users seek support with “prompt engineering”. This article will suggest prompts anywhere between 1400 to 1600 words, the generally recommended character count of Chat GPT.


Prompt 1: Provide a summary of  ____.

Above is a simple prompt that requests the open AI that can be utilized to produce a summary of legal cases or statutes. The prompt can initialize summarizing significant amounts of details into essential points. Based on one’s preference, one can request bullet point summaries to highlight the critical issues in the legal matter. This will simplify and condense the research process.

A sample use is the following:

Prompt: Provide a summary of Roe v. Wade.


“Summary of Roe v. Wade:

Roe v. Wade is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court, issued in 1973, that established a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. The case originated in Texas, where a woman named Jane Roe (a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey) challenged the state's law that criminalized abortion except to save the life of the mother.

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, held that a woman's right to privacy, as protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, encompassed the right to choose whether to have an abortion. The Court recognized that this right was not absolute and needed to be balanced against the state's interest in protecting the potential life of the fetus.

To address this balancing act, the Court established a framework of trimesters. In the first trimester, the decision to have an abortion was left to the woman and her doctor. In the second trimester, the state could regulate abortion to protect the mother's health but not with measures that unduly burdened her right. In the third trimester, the state had a compelling interest in protecting potential life and could prohibit abortion except when necessary to preserve the mother's life or health.

The decision in Roe v. Wade had a profound impact on the national debate surrounding abortion rights and continues to shape legal and social discourse in the United States. It established a constitutional foundation for reproductive rights, although subsequent court cases have modified some aspects of the ruling. The decision remains significant, as it recognized a woman's autonomy in making decisions about her own body and affirmed the principle of privacy in the context of reproductive choices.”

Generative AI can summarize the case within seconds, including its historical context, court rulings, and implications.

Prompt 2: Summarize the following {legal contract, note, bylaw, etc}: “___”.

Another method of prompt generation is copying and pasting large amounts of text for summarization.

As mentioned earlier, the current ChatGPT engine says users input 1400 to 1600 characters, though the maximum word count is 3000. One may have to break it down for longer texts when feeding it into the AI model. Moreover, it can be helpful to provide a brief context in the prompt to direct the generative AI better.

An example is the following:

Prompt: Summarize the following legal document:
“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

The text is an excerpt from the United States Constitution on the senate.


“This excerpt from the United States Constitution outlines the composition, selection, and powers of the Senate. It states that the Senate shall consist of two Senators from each state, chosen by the respective state legislatures, serving six-year terms with one vote per Senator. The Senators are divided into three classes, and their seats are vacated at different intervals to ensure staggered elections. The Vice President of the United States serves as the President of the Senate but only votes in the case of a tie. The Senate has the authority to select its officers and a President pro tempore in the absence of the Vice President. It is also granted the exclusive power to try impeachments, with the Chief Justice presiding in the case of the President's impeachment. A conviction in an impeachment trial can result in removal from office and disqualification from holding future offices, while criminal charges may still be pursued according to the law.”

Again, the AI tool summarizes the legal text with precision.

Moving Forward...

Many more relevant prompts can be viewed on LowTech AI, a website allowing users to use generative AI. The target audience ranges from those unfamiliar with generative AI tools like ChatGPT to tech-savvy individuals.

Undoubtedly, various legal professions, including lawyers and paralegals, will harness the mass potential of generative AI to summarize immense volumes of text, thereby allocating their time effectively to building a more robust case or providing rigorous legal analyses.

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