Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2020


Artificial Intelligence/AI invisibly navigates and informs our lives today and may also be used to determine a client’s legal fate. Through executive order, statements by a U.S. Supreme Court justice and a Congressional Commission on AI, all three branches of the United States government have addressed the use of AI to resolve societal and legal matters. Pursuant to the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct[i] and New York Rules of Professional Conduct (NYRPC), [ii] the legal profession recognizes the need for competency in technology which requires both substantive knowledge of law and competent use of technology for lawyers in the practice of law. Comment 8 of the NYRPC states, “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should … (ii) keep abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology the lawyer uses to provide services to clients.”[iii] This duty implies that in leveraging the potential of AI, legal professionals must also be cognizant of the challenges and limitations presented by its use in law. For it is the nuances of law, non-binary in nature, and the many and varied characteristics involved with judicial decision-making which “make it especially interesting and challenging for AI.”[iv]

[i] “Rule 1.1 Competence - Comment.” American Bar Association,

[ii] New York Rules of Professional

[iii] An Update on Lawyers Duty of Technological Competence: Part 1. 03-01-2019.PDF.

[iv] Rissland, EL; Ashley, KD; and Loui, RP, "AI and Law: A fruitful synergy" (2003). ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. 990. Retrieved from

The characteristics mentioned for the legal domain include Diverse categories of knowledge; Explicit styles and standards of justification; Different modalities of reasoning; Specialized repositories of knowledge; A variety of task orientations; Open-textured concepts; Adversarial truth seeking; and Highly reflective.



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