Appendix G: Courses in law
The development of generative AI tools poses particular challenges for legal education due to the structure of the curriculum, common methods of testing, and professional norms.
Generative AI is being increasingly widely used in the practice of law and this trend can be expected to continue. Law students being trained as professionals in the field need to be prepared for the impact of generative AI on the practice of the profession. A historical analogy can be made to the revolution in how case law was researched when legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis supplanted the traditional use of books to Shepardize cases. Similarly, the lawyer of the future will need to know how to use generative AI tools effectively and ethically to succeed in practice. Advanced coursework that addresses and develops knowledge about the use of GAI in the practice of law should be part of legal education. Law is a profession with strong ethical principles guiding practice and ethically appropriate professional use of GAI will need to similarly be addressed in legal education.
Generative AI may have uses in teaching legal writing through its ability to generate illustrative examples.
This could allow generative AI tools to serve as a type of tutor for the law student in learning legal writing.
The development of analytical skills and core legal knowledge through the foundational course work of the first year of the program is a key part of the law school curriculum. Use of generative AI in this setting risks undermining that foundational element of legal education (in several tests, ChatGPT passed the Bar Exam).
Take-home exams, which are widely used in law courses, are particularly vulnerable to the misuse of generative AI due to their unsupervised nature. Students who might be tempted to use generative AI inappropriately to assist in completing assignments may be led further in this direction by take-home exams that create greater time pressures. A return to in-person exams where the setting can control access to outside assistance may be necessary to ensure integrity in the testing process.
The use of generative AI should be proscribed in foundational courses in the legal curriculum where development of key analytical skills and knowledge is critical. Maintenance of the central role of final exams for assessment of learning in the first year curriculum in law will require adjustments to respond to the potential impact of GAI on this form of evaluation. Take-home exams should be avoided as an evaluation method due to the heightened danger of generative AI leading to academic integrity violations in this setting. In-person exams are a preferred option due to the ability to control and prevent outside assistance in that setting.
Judicious use of GAI tools could be incorporated into legal research and writing courses to help students master skills.
Ethical and practical issues involving the use of GAI in the practice of law should be explicitly addressed in legal education, so that students are prepared for it when they enter the profession.