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Bar President's Message

Nicole J. Benjamin, Esq., President, Rhode Island Bar Association

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Practice

Nicole J. Benjamin, Esq

President, Rhode Island Bar Association

“To remain competitive in the marketplace and relevant in the practice, we simply cannot ignore artificial intelligence.”



I do not ascribe to the view that artificial intelligence will replace lawyers. But I do ascribe to the view that artificial intelligence will replace those lawyers who choose to ignore it.

            As with all other aspects of representation, we are duty-bound to have the requisite “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”[fn 1] The tools and technologies we use to carry out our representation are no exception.

            We have all heard the stories of lawyers who perilously became the first adopters of some forms of generative artificial intelligence in the practice.[fn 2] And we have all learned from their unfortunate actions the risks attendant to certain of those products.

            AI “hallucinations”—including the unforgivable creation of case law—and the generation of inaccurate answers are enough to give us all pause when it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence in the practice.

            But, like all other technologies, artificial intelligence—in its many forms—comes with not just risks, but also benefits.[fn 3] Even judges who have sanctioned lawyers for their careless use of artificial intelligence have still recognized the technology’s benefits.[fn 4]

            Artificial intelligence is not entirely new to the profession. Many lawyers and law firms have used forms of artificial intelligence, such as technology-assisted review in large-scale discovery review projects. And, while we might associate tools like ChatGPT with artificial intelligence, there are many other forms of artificial intelligence, including those specific to the legal profession.

            If we choose not to ignore artificial intelligence and instead learn its limitations, find appropriate applications for it, and adopt good practices for its use, we can advance our own practices and the profession.

            To remain competitive in the marketplace and relevant in the practice, we simply cannot ignore artificial intelligence. We already encounter it in our day-to-day lives. “The technology is so pervasive, in fact, that it now hides in plain sight—in our cars and on our coffee tables. Many of us don’t think twice about the Alexa or Nest devices that store vast amounts of data on our homes, families, and lives.”[fn 5] And if we are not encountering it already, we will soon encounter it in our day-to-day practices.

            Whether we accept artificial intelligence as an appropriate tool for the legal profession or not, our need to understand the technology remains paramount. Our clients will inevitably come to us with challenges associated with artificial intelligence, and our ability to authenticate our evidence in the courtroom (and guard against deepfakes[fn 6]) will depend on a strong understanding of the technology.

            Recognizing the prevalence of artificial intelligence and the need for guidance for practitioners, on January 19, 2024, The Florida Bar issued Ethics Opinion 24-1—one of the first to address artificial intelligence in the practice.[fn 7] It cautiously endorses the use of generative artificial intelligence in the practice, providing that:

“Lawyers may use generative artificial intelligence…in the practice of law but must protect the confidentiality of client information, provide accurate and competent services, avoid improper billing practices, and comply with applicable restrictions on lawyer advertising.”

            But each jurisdiction is different. Some judges, skeptical of its use, require disclosures concerning any use of artificial intelligence. Judge Brantley Starr of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas has issued a standing order requiring attorneys to certify that they have not and will not use generative intelligence in court filings or that any use has been checked for accuracy using print reporters and traditional legal databases by a human being.[fn 8] His rationale:

While attorneys swear an oath to set aside their personal prejudices, biases, and beliefs to faithfully uphold the law and represent their clients, generative artificial intelligence is the product of programming devised by humans who did not have to swear such an oath. As such, these systems hold no allegiance to any client, the rule of law, or the laws and Constitution of the United States (or, as addressed above, the truth). Unbound by any sense of duty, honor, or justice, such programs act according to computer code rather than conviction, based on programming rather than principle.[fn 9]

            Other judges have adopted similar disclosure requirements.[fn 10]

            The Rhode Island Courts have not yet tackled this issue, but across the country, task forces have begun addressing these challenges with the goal of creating some uniformity for the profession.[fn 11]

            Setting aside the challenges associated with generative artificial intelligence, when used properly, artificial intelligence can create tremendous efficiencies, allowing us to better serve our clients. Imagine how we can harness that power and use that captured time to serve more clients. What would you do if you had an hour more time in your day? How about two hours or even three?

            In 2022, Legal Services Corporation released its fourth Justice Gap study, which found that low-income Americans do not get any or enough legal help for 92 percent of their substantial civil legal problems.[fn 12] There have been many proposals over the years on how to address America’s access to justice problem. Artificial intelligence may not be the solution, but it undoubtedly has the potential to chip away at this ever-increasing problem.

            Recognizing the importance of these emerging technologies, we are devoting a considerable portion of the Rhode Island Bar Annual Meeting to these issues. Our plenary session on Thursday morning is devoted to artificial intelligence in both civil and criminal practice. Throughout the two-day program, several other workshops will address issues specific to artificial intelligence.

            This is just the beginning of our effort to help the Bar keep abreast of these issues. There are myriad considerations associated with the use of artificial intelligence in the practice, including ethical considerations around confidentiality, candor to the court, and the unauthorized practice of law, among others. We stand ready to help our members understand and address these issues as these technologies become more prevalent.




1 R.I. R. Prof.’l Cond. 1.1.

2 Mata v. Avianca, Inc., No. 22-cv-1461, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108263 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2023) (sanctioning two lawyers and their law firm after finding that they had “abandoned their responsibilities when they submitted non-existent judicial opinions with fake quotes and citations created by the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, then continued to stand by the fake opinions after judicial orders called their existence into question”); see also Ex parte Lee, 673 S.W.3d 755 (Tex. Ct. App. 2023) (observing that the defendant’s brief cited cases that did not exist).

3 Fla. Bar Ethics Opinion No. 24-1 (Jan. 19, 2024) (recognizing that “[w]hile generative AI may have the potential to dramatically improve the efficiency of a lawyer’s practice, it can also pose a variety of ethical concerns”).

4 Mata, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108263 at *1 (“Technological advances are commonplace and there is nothing inherently improper about using a reliable artificial intelligence tool for assistance.”).

5 Maura R. Grossman, Paul W. Grimm, Mireille Hildebrandt and Sabine Gless, Artificial Justice: The Quandary of AI in the Courtroom, Judicature Int’l (Sept. 2022),

6 “Deepfake” is “an umbrella term for manipulated or fabricated audio and video content through machine learning and AI techniques.” Sandra Ristovska, Deepfakes and Their (Un)intended Consequences, ABA (Nov. 7, 2022), available at

7 Fla. Bar Ethics Opinion No. 24-1 (Jan. 19, 2024).


9 Id.

10 See Standing Order Re: Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) in Cases Assigned to Judge Baylson (E.D. Pa. June 6, 2023), available at

11 See, e.g.,

12 Legal Services Corporation, The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans (2022), available at


The Bar Journal assumes no responsibility for opinions, statements, and facts in any article, editorial, column, or book review, except to the extent that, by publication, the subject matter merits attention. Neither the opinions expressed in any article, editorial, column, or book review nor their content represent the official view of the Rhode Island Bar Association or the views of its members.