Blog Post

No, This is Not the End of the Settlement Profession – But AI May be a Big Part of its Future

By: Marco Campana
March 13, 2023

I read a good article that moves past AI and ChatGTP sensationalism and has lessons for our Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector. Focused on lawyers and AI in the law, the conclusion here makes sense for us as well. Throughout the text below, when you read "legal profession" think about "Settlement Practitioners."

Why it matters

AI is not going anywhere. In fact, like the pandemic accelerated digital transformation in our sector, ChatGPT has accelerated the interest in and adoption of AI in our sector. We can't put it behind us. We must approach it responsibly.

Conversations about AI bring up other technology conversations. I'll have more to say about that. But when I read how NarCity Media launched a beta of NarCity Chat, based on ChatGPT's tech, I asked what does a generative AI solution for the Settlement sector look like?

That created some interest and a quick conversation that happened last week among a few folks. Our brief but super interesting discussion quickly jumped from what a generative, conversational AI tool could do to a conversation about the myriad of challenges for us to get there.

This is the below the iceberg stuff. It's important stuff. And we need to be having this conversation.

Things like content sharing (including pulling content out from behind password protected portals to include), collaboration, ownership, many of the things I've talked about when I discuss our inevitable and important shift to a seamless Settlement and information system and digital Settlement experience. Also, how we're moving shortly to a place where AI won't replace us, but impact how we do our work. As one 2018 article put it, Don't Fear AI: Embrace It And Learn What It Can Do For You.

There are many articles like this. They're similar to articles and advice about digital transformation. It's here. Better that we start preparing for it and leading it than being led by it.

I know. It feels exhausting at this point. But we need to add AI to the many technologies we're already talking about in our sector. How to use them. How they can impact and even improve our work and Newcomer outcomes. And when and how not to use them.

But I digress.

We can and should learn from others

I've talked about this many times before as well. We don't need to be the early adopters. We certainly don't need to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from others pondering what others are pondering deeply. In this case, Canada's legal services sector. I'd love to hear what you think.

"No, This is Not the End of the Legal Profession – But AI May be a Big Part of its Future

All the above being said, ChatGPT is not the harbinger of doom for the legal profession that some sensationalists would have you believe. In fact, it would be outright dangerous for a lawyer to rely on anything it produces right now. It simply does not have the ability to understand the context in which legal questions are being asked of it, particularly when those questions are complex or nuanced. It also does not have the ethical or professional judgment that a client would expect from their lawyer.

However, ChatGPT is indicative of what we might see as the next major evolution of legal practice. It is not at all difficult to imagine a near future where some successor legal chatbot AI will do a lot of the heavy lifting for lawyers and their support staff.

If it can improve efficiency and provide for more cost-effective legal solutions then it could result in greater access to justice overall. The efficiency component alone is incredible. A human simply cannot prepare correspondence as quickly as ChatGPT can.

Ignoring ChatGPT won’t make it go away, and pretending that a form of this won’t become normalized in legal practice is naive. While I can gratefully say that I am not old enough to have seen how digital research databases disrupted legal research, I’m sure some of the current ChatGPT naysayers would have been the same types insisting that all legal research should be done via stuffy old tomes in a law library.

It may not be suitable for legal use yet, but any lawyer with an intention of practicing for more than another five years would be well advised to start building a familiarity with the platform. Understanding how AI can build efficiency into their practice, as well as the limitations it will inherently have, will be critical for making good use of any new narrow AI in legal practice."

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