GPT-4 on Legal Education and Licensing

March 20th, 2023 / By

ChatGPT has written passable law school essays, and GPT-4 has aced the bar exam. But what if, instead of asking AI to take our tests, we asked it about the future of legal education and licensing?

My colleague Andrea Sinner, who served as the Executive Director of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education, decided to find out. While preparing for a class she co-teaches with Trish White (Professor and Dean Emerita at the University of Miami School of Law, and Chair of the ABA Commission) Andrea asked GPT-4: “What principles would we apply to the seemingly intractable problem of how to better align legal education and licensure in the United States to the modern needs for, and requirements of, legal service delivery?” That question is similar to the one that the ABA Commission asked its stakeholders.

Here is what GPT-4 had to say:

“To better align legal education and licensure in the United States with modern needs and requirements for legal service delivery, several key principles should be considered:

  1. Focus on Practical Skills: Legal education should prioritize the development of practical skills, such as legal research, writing, negotiation, and client counseling. This will ensure that graduates are well-prepared to meet the needs of clients in the real world.
  2. Technology Integration: Law schools should integrate technology into their curricula, teaching students how to use legal tech tools, such as AI-based legal research platforms, document automation, and case management systems. This will help future legal professionals stay competitive and efficient in the rapidly changing legal landscape.
  3. Access to Justice: Legal education should emphasize the importance of access to justice and the role of lawyers in addressing the justice gap. This can include incorporating clinical programs, pro bono opportunities, and courses on public interest law to expose students to the legal needs of underserved populations.
  4. Interdisciplinary Education: Law schools should encourage interdisciplinary learning, integrating courses from other fields like business, technology, and social sciences. This can help develop well-rounded legal professionals who can better understand and address the complex, multifaceted issues facing clients and society.
  5. Flexibility in Licensure: To better accommodate the diverse needs of legal service delivery, licensing authorities should consider offering more flexible pathways to licensure, such as limited licenses for specific practice areas or alternative routes for non-traditional applicants with relevant experience.
  6. Continuing Legal Education (CLE): Legal professionals should be required to participate in ongoing CLE to stay informed about changes in the law, technology, and best practices. This will help ensure that they can continue to meet the evolving needs of clients and the legal system.
  7. Emphasis on Ethics and Professionalism: Law schools should continue to emphasize the importance of ethics and professionalism, ensuring that future legal professionals understand their responsibilities to clients, the courts, and society.
  8. Collaboration and Communication: Legal education should promote collaboration and communication skills, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and the ability to work effectively with diverse clients and colleagues.
  9. Outcome-based Assessments: Licensing authorities should consider adopting outcome-based assessments that evaluate a candidate’s practical skills, knowledge, and ethical understanding, rather than relying solely on traditional examinations like the bar exam.
  10. Adaptability and Lifelong Learning: Law schools and licensing authorities should promote adaptability and lifelong learning, encouraging legal professionals to be proactive in identifying and addressing new challenges, technologies, and opportunities in the legal landscape.

By applying these principles, legal education and licensure in the United States can better align with the modern needs and requirements for legal service delivery, ultimately benefiting clients, the legal profession, and society as a whole.”

[End GPT-4] That’s a pretty eloquent statement–and a very effective summary of many ideas mooted in today’s world of legal education and licensing. One of the values of AI is its ability to synthesize ideas from a variety of sources. The synthesis, of course, depends on the materials provided to the AI in its training; it is possible that GPT-4’s sources favor the principles listed above over other perspectives on legal education and licensing. Still, it would be useful exercise for legal educators and bar examiners to consider this list. How well does your curriculum or licensing system accord with these principles?


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