Welcome to Issue 2 of Volume 26 of Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. This symposium issue is the result of a virtual symposium co-hosted by the Journal and the Legal Writing Institute at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago in Fall 2021, on the theme of “Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Profession.”
We are publishing five articles that were part of the symposium.
Our first article is The Artificial Researcher: Information Literacy and AI in the Legal Research Classroom. In this article, Professor Erica Friesen offers information literacy as a framework for integrating AI-driven tools into the law school curriculum. Because legal tech tools change rapidly, teaching students legal technologies with a focus on specific tech tools is extremely difficult. With information literacy, however, the instruction focuses on efforts to improve how researchers interact with the information itself, instead of with specific tools or resource types. Using the competencies established by the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), Professor Friesen’s article offers readers useful competencies for AI’s integration into legal education.
In her article, Ethical Copying in the Artificial Intelligence Authorship Era: Promoting Client Interests & Enhancing Access to Justice, Professor Rebekah Hanley identifies a disconnect between applying plagiarism ideals from academic settings to practical legal writing. Instead, she argues that the act of machines “copying” things like contracts, memos, and other client documents can be helpful because it expands access to justice by reducing the cost of preparing legal documents. Given “copying’s” usefulness in expanding justice, Professor Hanley argues that the profession must re-examine the Rules of Professional Conduct with AI drafting tools in mind and revisit longstanding assumptions about authorship and critiques of copying.
Professor Adam Eckart’s article Transactional Artificial Intelligence discusses AI’s influence on transactional practices, including corporate, trust and estate, and real estate. His article offers two dozen examples of transactional AI tools and describes how these tools can help transactional attorneys achieve efficiency and scale in their billable and pro bono work. In addition, the article details how law schools can integrate transactional AI tools into first-year courses like legal writing and upper-level courses like transactional clinics to help prepare students for the use of transactional AI tools in practice.
Apex Imaginators: Leonardo da Vinci, the Quintessential Knowledge Entrepreneur by Professor Hilary Escajeda describes how smart and creative knowledge entrepreneurs—or “apex imaginators”—can thrive in an era of rapid and continuous technology disruption, workplace and career reorganization, and economic reconfiguration. Professor Escajeda explains how curiosity, cognitive range, and creativity energize the active minds of apex imaginators such as Leonardo da Vinci. The article also offers an action list for those determined to become apex imaginators like da Vinci including the new competencies, capabilities, and an entrepreneurial mindset that this would include.
Our final article is Alexa, Write a Memo: The Promise and Challenges of AI and Legal Writing. In this article, Professors Teresa Phelps and Kevin Ashley explain how current AI capabilities could be applied to the memo-writing process. For example, the authors show how for a limited variety of legal memoranda, AI can draft a memo automatically. For certain types of cases, AI can predict an outcome given a textual description of a case’s facts, but it cannot yet provide an explanation or justification. The authors illustrate how AI tools could be integrated into familiar lessons in legal writing.
It is an exciting time for AI and the law, and these articles provide a useful look at existing and future ways in which AI can be used in legal education and the legal profession.
I’m very grateful to the members of our Editorial Board and our technical editors for their hard work this year, especially since this was the second issue of the year. The symposium issue would not have been possible without their efforts.