“Through my questions, you will learn to teach yourselves.”
― John Jay Osborn Jr., The Paper Chase
This quote from the famous movie, The Paper Chase, about the rigors of Harvard Law School refers to the Socratic method, in which law professors ask students questions about cases. These questions are designed to guide the student's thinking and lead them to examine their own beliefs and assumptions. Proponents of the Socratic method contend that it encourages critical thinking, active engagement with ideas, and the development of analytical skills.
In the future, law professors may say, "Through my teaching, you will learn to draft prompts for AI programs that will teach you anything you need to know."
Can ChatGPT answer a law professor better than a law student?
Can ChatGPT draft arguments better than a law student? Associate? Partner?
Imagine a student in a law class using ChatGPT to provide an answer to a question from a professor. Seems ridiculous. However, imagine that same student not using electronic databases like LexisNexis or Westlaw to research case law to find cases relating to a legal issue. Seems ridiculous, right?
Professor Wagner is correct. Students (and attorneys) should become fluent in using AI as it will become as essential a tool in the legal field as spell check. Yes, there should be limits. Yes, there should be checks on output. Law school seems, though, to be a great laboratory to experiment in how to make AI improve legal skills and efficiency. The best law schools should find ways to teach their students how to excel at AI, not fear it.