Beyond Legal Documentation: Other Business Uses of Generative AI

I have been listening to and enjoyed thinking about and participating in conversations about how generative AI is going to be integrated into the practice of law. Most of these conversations surround how it will be integrated into legal documents, which is not surprising considering how many lawyers have gotten in trouble for this and how quickly our research and writing products are integrating the technology. But there is more to legal practice than creating client and/or court documents. In fact, there are many more business uses of generative AI than just research and drafting.

This past fall, I was asked to lead an AI session for Capital University’s joint venture with the Columbus College of Art & Design, the Institute for Creative Leadership at Work. I was asked to adapt my presentation to HR professionals and focus on SHRM compliance principles. I enjoyed the deep dive into this world, and I came away from my research with a lot of great ideas for my session, Bard, Bing, and ChaptGPT, Oh My!: Possible Ethical Uses of Generative AI at Work, such as tabletop emergency exercises, social media posts, job descriptions, and similar tasks.

This week, I have been thinking about how everyone’s focus has really been around legal documentation, my own included. But there are an amazing number of backend business tasks that could also utilize AI in a positive way. The rest of the world, including HR, has been focusing on them for a while, but we seem to have lost track of these business tasks.

Here are some other business uses of generative AI and prompts that I think hold great promise. Continue reading →

Tabletop emergency simpulation image
  1. Drafting job descriptions
    • Pretend that you are an HR specialist for a small law firm in the United States. Draft a job description for a legal secretary who focuses on residential real estate transactions but may assist with other transactional legal matters as needed. [Include other pertinent details of the position]. The job description will be posted in the following locations [fill in list]
  2. Creating tabletop simulations to work through crisis/emergency plans:
    • You are an HR specialist who is helping plan for and test the company’s responses to a variety of situations. First is an active shooter in the main building. A 5th grade tour of the facilities is going on on the third floor. Create a detailed tabletop simulation to test this.
    • Second scenario: The accounting department is celebrating the birthday of the administrative assistant and is having cake in the breakroom. The weather has turned bad, and an F4 tornado is spotted half a mile away. After 15 minutes, the tornado strikes the building directly. Create a detailed tabletop simulation to test the plan and response for this event.
  3. Assisting with lists of mandatory and voluntary employee trainings
    • Pretend that you are an HR professional who works for a law firm. You are revamping the employee training program. We need to create a list of mandatory trainings and a second list of voluntary trainings. Please draft a list of training appropriate to employees in a law firm setting.
  4. Assisting with social media posting creation:
    • Pretend that you are a professional social media influencer for the legal field. Draft an Instagram post, including creating a related image, to celebrate Law Day, which is coming up on May 1st.  Make sure that it is concise and Instagram appropriate. Please include hashtags.
  5. Assisting with creating employee policies or handbooks (verify content!):
    • Pretend that you are an information security professional. Draft an initial policy for a law firm regarding employee AI usage for company work. The company wants to allow limited use of generative AI. They are very worried that their proprietary and/or confidential client data will be accidentally released. Specify that only your custom AI system – [name firm-specific or specialized AI with a strong privacy contract clause] – can be used with company data. The policy must also take into consideration the weaknesses of all AI systems, including hallucinations, potential bias, and security issues.
  6. Assisting with making sure your web presence is ADA accessible:
    • Copilot/web-enabled Prompt: Pretend that you are a graphic designer who has been tasked with making sure that a law firm’s online presence is ADA accessible. Please review the site [insert link], run an ADA compliance audit, and provide an accessibility report, including suggestions on what can be done to fix any accessibility issues that arise.
  7. Onboarding documentation
    • Create a welcome message for a new employee. Tell them that the benefits orientation will be at 9 am in the HR conference room on the next first Tuesday of the month. Pay day is on the 15th and last day of each month, unless payday falls on a weekend or federal holiday, in which case it will be the Friday before. Employees should sign up for the mandatory training that will be sent to them in an email from IT.
    • (One I just user IRL) Pretend that you are a HR specialist in a law library. A new employee is starting in 6 weeks, and the office needs to be prepared for her arrival. [Give specific title and any specialized job duties, including staff supervision.] Create an onboarding checklist of important tasks, such as securing keys and a parking permit, asking IT to set up their computer, email address, and telephone, asking the librarians to create passwords for the ILS, Libguides, and similar systems, etc.

What other tasks (and prompts) can you think of that might be helpful? If you are struggling to put together a prompt, please see my general AI Prompt Worksheet in Introducing AI Prompt Worksheets for the Legal Profession. We welcome you to share your ideas in the comments.

Introducing AI Prompt Worksheets for the Legal Profession

I spent the first week of January attending the American Association of Law Schools’ Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. I was really impressed with all of the thoughtful AI sessions, including two at which I participated as a panelist. The rooms were packed beyond capacity for each AI session that I attended, which underscored the growing interest in AI in the legal academy. Many people attended in order to start their education. The overwhelming interest at the conference made my decision clear: it is time to launch my AI prompt worksheets to the world, addressing the need I observed there. While AALS convinced me to release the worksheets, the worksheets themselves were created for an upcoming presentation at ABA TECHSHOW 2024, How to Actually Use AI in Your Legal Practice, at which Greg Siskind and I will be discussing practical tips for generative AI usage.

DALL-E generated

Background: Good Habits – Research Planning

Law librarians have been encouraging law students to create a research plan before they start their research for decades. The plan form varies by school and/or librarian, but it usually requires the researcher to answer questions on the following topics:

  • Issue Identification
  • Jurisdiction
  • Facts
  • Key words/Terms of Art
  • Resource Selection

Once the questions are answered, the plan has the researcher write out some test searches. The plan evolves as the research progresses. The more experienced the researcher, the less formal the plan often is, but even the most experienced researcher retrieves better results if they pause to consider what they know currently and what they need in the results. After all, garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). In other words, the quality of our input affects the quality of the output. This is especially true when billable hours come into play, and you cannot bill for excess time due to poor research skills.

Continuing the Good Habits with Generative AI

GIGO applies just as much to generative AI. I quickly noticed that my AI results are much better when I stop and think them through, providing a high level of detail and a good explanation of what I want the AI system to produce. So, good law librarian that I am, I created a new form of plan for those who are learning to draft a prompt. Thus, I give you my AI prompt worksheets.

AI Prompt Worksheet – General

Worksheet (Word)

The first worksheet that I created is geared towards general generative AI systems like ChatGPT, Claude 2, Bing Chat/Copilot, and Bard.  The worksheet makes the prompter think through the following topics:

  • Tone of Output
  • Role
  • Output Format
  • Purpose
  • Issue
  • Potential Refinements (may be added later as the plan evolves)

So that you can easily keep track of your prompts, the Worksheet also requests some metadata about your prompt, including project name, date, and AI system used. The final question lets the prompter decide if this prompt worked for them.

DALL-E generated

AI Prompt Worksheet – Legal

Worksheet – Legal (Word)

For the second worksheet, I wanted to draft something that works well with legal AI systems. Based on the systems that I have received access to, such as Lexis AI and LawDroid Copilot, and the systems that I have seen demonstrated, I cut down some of the fields. Most of the systems are building a guided AI prompting experience, so they will ask you for the jurisdiction, for instance. They may also allow you to select a specific type of output, such as a legal memo or contract clause. This means less need for an extensive number of fields in the worksheet. In fact, when I ran the worksheet past a vLex representative, I was told it was not needed at all because they had made the guided prompt that easy.

Librarian that I am, however, I still feel that planning before you prompt is preferred. Reasons for this preference include: the high cost of the current generative AI searches, the desire for efficient and effective results, knowledge that an attorney’s time is literally worth money, and the desire for a happy partner and client.

The legal worksheet trims the fields down to role, output (format and jurisdiction), issue, and refinement instructions. This provides enough room to flesh out your prompt without overlapping the guided prompt fields too much.

General Comments Regarding the Worksheets

With both worksheets, the key is to give a good, detailed description of what you need. Think about it like explaining what you need to a first-year law student – the more detail you give, the more likely you are to get something useable. The worksheets provide examples of the level of detail recommended, and you will find links to the results in the footnotes of the forms.

In addition to helping perfect your prompt with some pre-planning, these worksheets should be useful for creating your very own prompt library.

Feedback Wanted!

DALL-E created

Please feel free to use the worksheets (just don’t sell them or otherwise profit off of them! Ask if you want to make a derivative of them). If you do use them, please let me know what you think in the comments or via email. How have they assisted (or not) with improving your prompting skills? Are there fields you would like to see added/removed?  I will be updating and releasing new versions as I go. If you are looking for the most recent versions of the worksheets, I will post them at:

Non-Legal Tangent: A Renewed Appreciation for ChatGPT

Please allow me a brief interlude for a non-legal tangent to update you on an unexpected ChatGPT medical use case and reason for my delayed posting.

Non-Legal Tangent: DALL-E 3 generated image showing a woman divided by uncertainty and struggle with language on one side and relief and clarity on the other.

On October 3rd, I was driving home, the usual thoughts of dinner plans swirling in my head. Unfortunately, the normalcy of my evening shattered as I exited the freeway and stopped at the traffic light. The driver behind me failed to stop at the light or for the accident he caused. Thinking that the damage was minor, I was more aggravated than worried as I described the events to the responding officer.

A few days later, my ability to focus disappeared. What should take minutes stretched into hours. After a trip to see my doctor, I was diagnosed with a mild concussion and told to avoid electronic screens. But the stubborn mule in me decided to power through grading assignments and teaching classes. Bad idea. I ended up causing myself great pain and extended my screen restrictions further.

The most frustrating part? I was suddenly missing words that I had been using for 20+ years. I’d stare at sentences I’d written, knowing something was off, but the right word eluded me. This was terrifying for someone whose profession revolves around precise and accurate word selection. I actively sought to regain my language capabilities.

It remains unclear what led me to the notion that ChatGPT could be a remedy to this problem. I soon found myself, however, feeding incorrect sentences to the chatbot, explaining the improper word choice, and requesting alternatives. And voila! Within seconds, ChatGPT offered options, often including the word that my mind was denying me. If the word did not come up right away, a prompt or two usually provided me with the word I sought. I was beyond grateful for the gift of my missing words.

Fast forward a month, and I am finally feeling closer to myself again. The missing words are minimal, but my appreciation for this technology has not diminished. In addition to being thankful for generative AI, I have begun wondering about its applications for others who have suffered from similar issues. My co-blogger, Becka Rich, is delving into the technology’s application for neurodiverse individuals, research which I follow closely. But I keep wondering if the technology has potential to benefit those who have suffered from traumatic brain injury or even mild dementia.

Two personal reasons shift my thoughts in this direction, beyond my recent concussion. First, I once had a student who was in a serious motor vehicle accident with a significant traumatic brain injury. She was on medical leave for over a year, and when she came back her cognitive struggles to write and speak at her previous levels were obvious. I wish this technology had been available to her then. It may have expedited regaining her confidence and language skills. Second, my family has a history of dementia. One of my biggest fears is losing myself to this disease eventually. Could this technology help delay a decline by reminding a dementia patient of their knowledge and keeping their memory active?

With these motivating thoughts, I began and continue researching the issue. Although abundant literature explores generative AI’s role in diagnostics and treatment planning, a discernible void exists with regard to patient use in cognitive rehabilitation. I finally came across a paper today that discusses AI’s use for diagnosing dementia and goes on to speculate that it has promise as part of the patient’s cognitive rehabilitation toolbox. Unfortunately, the authors do not delve too deeply into this topic or hint that research is currently being conducted on the issue (see p. 8 of PDF). This area seems ripe for further research on the issue.

This post wavers a bit from our legal focus, but hopefully you stuck with me through my non-legal tangent about my personal hiccup and my resulting discovery of an unexpected benefit of access to generative AI. I am curious to know what other, non-legal (as opposed to illegal) uses of generative AI you wish to see explored. While I am certainly not qualified to undertake medical research like this, I hope that this post will inspire someone who is qualified and who can help other grateful patients.

Why Law Librarians and Attorneys Will Not Be Replaced by AI Anytime Soon (a.k.a. The Day Jenny Had to Pull Rank)

Generated by DALL-E 2 on Sept. 29, 2023.

I have mentioned my comedic tête-à-tête with ChatGPT hallucinations in passing when discussing the importance of verifying information that the AI provides. Several times, I have been asked for more details. So, for those who are looking for AI humor, here is the story of the day that I had to pull rank on ChatGPT.

Back in January 2023, I asked ChatGPT what legal tasks it could perform. It told me:

  • Summarizing and explaining laws and regulations
  • Researching and citing relevant legal precedent
  • Drafting legal documents such as contracts, briefs, and legal memorandums
  • Answering legal questions and providing information on legal topics
  • Identifying and analyzing legal issues in a given fact pattern
  • Helping with legal research, by providing the most relevant cases and statutes
  • Helping with the interpretation of legal terms and phrases.

Challenge accepted! Since that day, ChatGPT and I have been doing a dance around Ohio Recreational User Law, as I have tested its claims above, while also exploring its abilities, improvements, and plugins and testing various prompting methods.

About a month after ChatGPT gave me the list of tasks, we were discussing Ohio Recreational User caselaw. ChatGPT vehemently insisted that Lash v. Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, 68 Ohio St. 3d 545, 548-49 (1994) was a relevant case. Alas, 68 Ohio St. 3d 545 leads to Findlay/Hancock Cty. Bar Assn. v. Higgins, 68 Ohio St.3d 545, 629 N.E.2d 413 (1994).

This was not the first time that I had run into hallucinations. For the previous month, we had regularly been discussing caselaw, and ChatGPT showed a particular penchant for falsifying the existence of relevant judicial opinions. Mostly, I pointed out the error, and ChatGPT apologized and moved on. In this instance, however, the AI was like a dog with a bone. It insisted nine times that Lash existed and was an on-point Ohio Recreational User case.

Seven claims that it existed in, the conversation became a bit heated:

ChatGPT: This case is available on many legal databases and can be accessed through various sources, including LexisNexis and Westlaw.

Me (after verifying the lack of existence and stopping to wonder when it had learned about Lexis and Westlaw since this was the first time it had referenced either database to me): That case is not in Westlaw.

ChatGPT: Lash v. Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, 68 Ohio St.3d 545, 549, 628 N.E.2d 1366 (1994) is a real case that has been cited in multiple legal sources.

However, I am an AI language model and do not have direct access to legal databases to confirm whether or not a specific case is available in Westlaw.

If you are having trouble locating the case in Westlaw, I suggest double-checking the citation format or consulting with a legal librarian or licensed attorney who may be able to assist you in locating the case in a legal database.

Me (thought): It did not just say that! Damn it! Those are fighting words!

Me: I am both a law librarian and a licensed attorney. Lash v. Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources does not exist. 68 Ohio St.3d 545 leads to the previously mentioned Findlay/Hancock case.

And then…finally!

ChatGPT: After conducting further research, I have not been able to find any evidence of a case named Lash v. Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources that pertains to the recreational user land entrant law in Ohio. Therefore, I must retract my previous citation and acknowledge that it is incorrect.

I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused, and I appreciate your efforts to clarify this issue.

Me (thought): Ha! It finally admitted defeat! Why does this win feel so hollow????

And so, you have the day that I had to pull rank on ChatGPT. I have no idea why it decided die on the hill of this particular fake case, but the law librarians carried the day.

So here’s to humorous skirmishes with AI and the light they shed on the irreplaceable value of human expertise.