It's 2023, and legal is finding themselves in the eye of a perfect storm: growing compliance demands, shrinking budgets, and an always-on culture.
Against this backdrop, generative AI like ChatGPT isn't just a tech novelty; it has become an operational necessity. Experts project that nearly half of all 'busy work' in law can be automated by AI. That's not just a nod to efficiency; it's a lifeline.
So, if you're not harnessing tools like ChatGPT, you're essentially leaving efficiency gains on the table.
In this guide, we're cutting through the noise to pinpoint how in-house legal teams can smartly leverage ChatGPT to cut down on repetitive tasks, tackle its limitations head-on, and use advanced prompts to get the right responses.
What is a prompt?
A prompt in the ChatGPT universe is the phrase or command you enter in the GPT model to receive an appropriate response about the subject. These ChatGPT prompts are especially helpful in the legal field.
Think of it as your search query on Google, but way more conversational. You type in a statement, question, or command, and ChatGPT churns out a response that aligns with your input. It's the initial nudge you give to start a dialogue or get the specific information you're hunting for.
A prompt acts as either a command or a question that tells ChatGPT what you want. If you're a lawyer looking for quick insights on a recent data privacy law, you could prompt, "Explain the GDPR compliance requirements for small businesses."
In seconds, you'll have a detailed breakdown. It's like having a well-trained assistant, but without the need for small talk or employee benefits.
The quality of your prompt often dictates the value you'll extract from ChatGPT. Prompts guide the AI, helping it generate output that is both accurate and relevant.
Need a summary of a legal document? A vague prompt like "Summarize this" might result in a less-than-stellar outcome. But a more targeted prompt, like "Summarize the key clauses in this contract," can give you precisely what you're looking for.
How ChatGPT can help with the challenges of in-house legal
Lawyers face challenges that go beyond the courtroom—from overwhelming paperwork to time-intensive legal research and complex client communication. That's where ChatGPT comes in as a digital assistant to help ease these burdens, particularly when using specialized ChatGPT prompts for legal work.
#1 Overwhelming paperwork
Every lawyer knows that paperwork is like laundry; it just keeps piling up. Drafting contracts, summarizing case laws, or simply managing internal documentation—it never ends.
How ChatGPT helps:
ChatGPT can draft basic documents, saving you valuable time for more complex legal issues when given the right ChatGPT prompts.
Also read: How does AI speed up contract management?
#2 Legal research
Legal research is essential but time-consuming, often requiring sift through extensive case law and legislation.
How ChatGPT helps:
Need a brief on a new law? Utilize ChatGPT prompts for legal research by asking "Explain the new data protection act," and ChatGPT delivers a concise summary.
#3 Client communication
Effective communication with clients demands time and attention, balancing the need to inform while managing multiple cases.
How ChatGPT helps:
For repetitive client questions, ChatGPT can generate standardized yet customized responses, especially if you use ChatGPT prompts tailored for client communication in the legal field, enhancing efficiency without sacrificing client relations.
ChatGPT for in-house legal: Common use cases
When it comes to in-house legal teams, the challenges are often multiplied. You're not just dealing with external clients; you're also navigating internal complexities—compliance checks, contract negotiations, and legal advisories, just to name a few. Here's where ChatGPT can offer some real advantages.
#1 Contract review and generation
Drafting and reviewing standard Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) or employment contracts often eats up valuable hours. These are usually template-based documents, but they still require careful attention to detail, which means you're spending time you could be using for more complex, high-stakes negotiations or litigation.
ChatGPT streamlines this process by generating these standard contracts for you. This frees up your schedule to tackle contracts that need your expertise, like complicated mergers or acquisitions that have intricate terms and conditions.
#2 Compliance checks
Compliance checks are a constant challenge for in-house legal teams, especially in industries like healthcare, finance, or tech where regulations can change rapidly. Missing an update can lead to hefty fines, legal repercussions, and damage to the company's reputation.
You often have to wade through lengthy documents and regulatory bulletins just to stay current.
ChatGPT simplifies this. Imagine there's a new update to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affecting how customer data should be handled. Instead of sifting through a 50-page government document, you could ask ChatGPT to summarize the latest GDPR changes affecting customer data. It will provide a concise summary, allowing you to quickly grasp the changes and assess their implications for your organization.
#3 Legal research
Legal research is often a bottleneck for in-house legal teams. Whether it's a new patent application that needs prior art search or an impending labor dispute requiring a deep dive into relevant laws, each research task can take hours if not days.
This means other urgent matters might get pushed to the back burner, creating a domino effect of delays and inefficiencies.
Here's where ChatGPT comes in handy. Suppose your company is facing a potential copyright infringement case involving software code. Rather than starting from scratch, you can ask ChatGPT to outline the key points in defending a software copyright infringement case. The AI's response will give you a quick rundown of the critical aspects to consider, allowing you to hit the ground running.
#4 Internal advisories
Creating internal advisories is a routine yet critical function for in-house legal teams. These memos are often the first line of defense against legal pitfalls, serving as a guide for employees on compliance, new policies, or operational changes.
A poorly written advisory could lead to misunderstandings, resulting in unintended violations of laws or internal policies.
For instance, say there's a recent regulatory change affecting how your company needs to handle customer data. You'd need to inform all relevant departments as quickly as possible, and each word needs to be accurate to avoid misinterpretation.
The pressure to be both quick and precise can lead to a stressful bottleneck.
Enter ChatGPT. You can ask it to draft an internal memo on new customer data handling protocols and get a baseline document that hits all the important points. This draft can serve as a solid starting point, enabling you to finalize the advisory with specific legal interpretations and procedural guidelines for your company.
#5 FAQs for employees
Fielding repetitive questions is a time sink. Clarifying company policies or explaining non-compete clauses are recurring questions that take up bandwidth that could be better spent on higher-value tasks.
What's more, each minute spent answering these questions is a minute lost for tackling pressing legal matters, like imminent contract deadlines or pending litigation.
ChatGPT offers a practical way to address this. Let's say HR frequently asks about the ins and outs of remote work policies, or the sales team often needs clarification on customer data usage. Instead of answering these questions one by one, you could use ChatGPT to generate a comprehensive FAQ section.
This isn't just about cutting down your email volume. A well-crafted FAQ also ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page, reducing the likelihood of mistakes that could lead to legal complications down the line.
7 Advanced ChatGPT prompts for in-house legal teams
#1 Drafting contracts
Prompt: "Assume you are an expert in real estate law. Draft a purchase agreement for a commercial property, including clauses for environmental assessments and zoning regulations. Also, suggest a termination clause in case of a failed assessment."
#2 Reviewing contracts
Prompt: "Act as a corporate attorney specialized in technology contracts. Review the following Software as a Service (SaaS) agreement and identify potential areas where liability could be limited, focusing on indemnity and limitations of liability clauses."
#3 Conducting legal research and analysis
Prompt: "Imagine you are an experienced labor law consultant. Provide an analysis of how the recent amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act impact companies with unionized workforces. Include relevant case law to support your points."
#4 Confirming proper citation format
Prompt: "Assume you're an editor for a legal journal. Convert the following list of statutes and court opinions to Chicago Manual of Style citations, and confirm their accuracy."
#5 Preparing a case for legal disputes
Prompt: "Act as a litigator with expertise in intellectual property law. Develop a strategy for defending against a patent infringement suit focused on biotechnology products. Include a list of potential expert witnesses in the field."
Also read: How to Resolve Contract Disputes
#6 Gaining procedural guidance
Prompt: "Pretend you're a senior compliance officer in a multinational corporation. Outline the steps and required documentation for complying with GDPR when launching a new digital marketing strategy in the European Union."
#7 Drafting Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)
Prompt: "I want you to act as an experienced transactional lawyer with deep experience in mergers and acquisitions across the Asia-Pacific region. Write a list of commonly-used conditions precedent in an acquisition of a regulated financial services company. Assume the target company is publicly-traded on the New York Stock Exchange."
Also read: Will AI Replace In-House Lawyers?
Tips to write the best ChatGPT prompts for legal tasks
“The complexity [of ChatGPT] comes into play when you want to move beyond a simple request and ask ChatGPT multiple questions, make multiple requests as part of one prompt, or refine the ChatGPT results by refining the prompt or adding to the data ChatGPT is considering. The good news is that you can do all of this. The “bad” news is that it takes practice and time.”
~ Sterling Miller, CEO, Hilgers Graben PLLC
Ten Things: ChatGPT and Generative AI
To get the most out of ChatGPT, you've got to ask it the right questions. Let's dive into how you can make your prompts more detailed and appropriate to make ChatGPT work harder so you don't have to.
#1 Be specific about your requirement
Being vague gets you nowhere. Think of ChatGPT like a barista; the more specific your coffee order, the more likely you'll get exactly what you want.
If you're looking for a rundown of a legal case, don't just ask for a "summary of case XYZ." Instead, go for something like "Summarize the case XYZ, focusing on the judge's rationale and the implications for contract law."
#2 Give as much context as possible
ChatGPT needs to know what game it's playing. If you're drafting a contract, for instance, specify the industry, the parties involved, and what the contract aims to achieve. This shapes the AI's output, ensuring you get a response that's not just accurate but also highly relevant.
Bad Prompt: "Draft a contract for me."
This prompt is as vague as they come. ChatGPT has no idea what kind of contract you're asking for, who it's between, or what it's supposed to achieve. You're basically asking for a shot in the dark.
Better Prompt: "Draft a freelance contract."
Now we're getting somewhere. At least ChatGPT knows you're talking about a freelance contract. Still, "freelance" could mean anything from writing to graphic design to consulting.
Best Prompt: "Draft a freelance contract for a graphic designer, with a focus on project deliverables, timelines, and payment terms. Include a clause on intellectual property rights."
#3 Test and iterate
After you get your initial response from ChatGPT, treat it like a first draft. Evaluate the output: Does it meet your needs? Is it too broad or maybe too narrow?
Use this feedback to refine your next prompt. Keep tweaking until you hit the sweet spot.
ChatGPT limitations for lawyers and how to respond to them
While ChatGPT for legal isn't a silver bullet, it has limitations.
Understanding these limitations is the first step in leveraging this tool effectively. Keep these considerations in mind, and you can make ChatGPT a valuable addition to your in-house toolkit.
#1 Ethical considerations
ChatGPT isn't a licensed attorney, so don't expect attorney-client privilege here. You can't rely on it for confidential advice, and it certainly shouldn't be the final word on sensitive matters.
Solution? Use ChatGPT for initial guidance, but consult with human experts for the nitty-gritty ethical stuff.
“Automating document review gives you more-accurate results faster. But the ethical obligations to maintain client confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest, and provide competent representation require human judgments that cannot be delegated to machines.”
~ Olga V. Mack, VP at LexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro
The Future Of Legal: Combining AI And Human Expertise For Improved Outcome
#2 Accuracy limitations
Accuracy is a big deal in the legal world, and ChatGPT isn't flawless. Sometimes it might misinterpret your prompt or provide an outdated answer.
“When I asked research-related questions, ChatGPT spit back something that sounds very intelligent [and] provided a conglomeration of citations that look real but don’t actually exist.”
~ Ashley Armstrong, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, University of Connecticut
Generative AI and the Law
While it's great for getting quick drafts or overviews, treat ChatGPT’s outputs as a starting point, not gospel. Always double-check before you make decisions or forward that contract.
#3 Data security challenges
Your in-house team probably deals with confidential info. Guess what? ChatGPT operates in the cloud, which means data security is a real concern. Before you punch in anything sensitive, make sure you're familiar with the platform's data policies and secure channels.
“The number one rule since the birth of the internet is ‘don’t do anything stupid’ online. You need to think ahead of time: are you and your client comfortable?”
~ Greg Lambert, Chief Knowledge Services Officer, Jackson Walker LLP
Generative AI and the Law
The perfect duo—ChatGPT & SpotDraft AI for in-house legal teams
ChatGPT is a force multiplier for in-house legal teams, but it's not a standalone solution. It's excellent for generating drafts, doing initial research, and speeding up repetitive tasks.
However, when it comes to confidential contracts and data security, you might need something more specialized. That's where SpotDraft AI comes in.
Why SpotDraft AI?
SpotDraft AI is your go-to platform for contract management. Unlike ChatGPT, which operates in the cloud and may pose some security risks, SpotDraft AI is designed to offer secure and efficient contract management.
It's the best of both worlds—you get the rapid drafting and basic legal tasks from ChatGPT and the security and advanced contract management features from SpotDraft AI.
So, start integrating ChatGPT for quick tasks and SpotDraft AI for robust contract management into your legal workflows. Experiment, refine, and watch your efficiency skyrocket.
Not sure where to begin? Request a demo for SpotDraft AI today!