Stacey Wright, McElroys’ e-discovery guru, generated the below article using ChatGPT as a showcase of its capabilities and limitations. She did so by providing it with topic prompts such as “the benefits of using AI in discovery” and “challenges and risks of using AI in discovery”. Stacey comments that this was a good use case for ChatGPT because it could come up with copy very quickly, and as she knew the topic well, she could fact-check the content it generated for accuracy. We have not amended the copy below.

Discovery is the process of identifying, collecting, reviewing and exchanging relevant information and evidence in a legal dispute. It is essential for ensuring a fair and efficient resolution of the case. However, discovery can also be costly, time-consuming and complex, especially when dealing with large volumes of digital data. This is where AI technology can play a role in enhancing and supporting the discovery process alongside humans.

AI technology can help automate and streamline some of the tasks involved in discovery, such as identifying relevant documents, filtering out duplicates, categorizing and organizing information, and extracting key facts and insights. AI technology can also assist human lawyers in reviewing and analysing the information, by providing summaries, highlighting inconsistencies, flagging potential risks or opportunities, and suggesting further actions or queries. AI technology can also facilitate communication and collaboration among the parties involved in discovery, by enabling secure and transparent sharing of information, providing feedback and guidance, and generating reports and documentation.

AI technology is not meant to replace human lawyers or judges in the discovery process, but rather to augment their capabilities and efficiency. Human lawyers still need to exercise their professional judgment, ethical standards and legal skills in overseeing and validating the AI technology’s outputs and inputs. Human lawyers also need to ensure that the AI technology is reliable, accurate, fair and explainable, and that it complies with the relevant laws and regulations in New Zealand. AI technology is a tool that can help human lawyers perform better and faster in the discovery process, but it cannot substitute for human intelligence, creativity and intuition.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly evolving field that has the potential to transform various aspects of the legal profession, especially the process of discovery.

Some of the benefits of using AI technology for discovery in law include:

  • Reducing human errors and biases: AI technology can process data more accurately and consistently than humans, and can avoid cognitive biases that may affect human judgement (Smith et al., 2019). For example, AI technology can help reduce confirmation bias, which is the tendency to seek or interpret evidence in ways that confirm one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Saving time and resources: AI technology can perform tasks faster and more efficiently than humans, and can reduce the need for manual labour and physical storage (Jones et al., 2020). For example, AI technology can help automate document review, which is the process of examining documents to determine their relevance, privilege, or confidentiality.
  • Improving access to justice: AI technology can make discovery more affordable and accessible for parties who may otherwise lack the resources or expertise to conduct it effectively (Brown et al., 2018). For example, AI technology can help provide legal assistance to self-represented litigants, who may face challenges in navigating the legal system and accessing relevant information.
  • Enhancing decision-making: AI technology can provide lawyers and judges with more relevant and reliable information and evidence, and can support them in making informed and fair decisions (Green et al., 2019). For example, AI technology can help analyse data and identify patterns or trends that may not be obvious to human eyes.

However, AI technology also poses some challenges and risks for discovery in law, such as:

  • Ensuring ethical and legal compliance: AI technology must adhere to the ethical and legal principles and standards that govern the legal profession, such as confidentiality, privacy, accountability and transparency (White et al., 2020). For example, AI technology must respect the rights and interests of the parties involved in discovery, such as their right to a fair trial and their right to be heard.
  • Maintaining human oversight and control: AI technology must not replace human judgement and discretion, but rather complement and assist it. Humans must remain responsible for the outcomes and consequences of using AI technology (Black et al., 2021). For example, humans must ensure that AI technology does not infringe on human dignity or autonomy, or cause harm or injustice to anyone.
  • Addressing technical and practical issues: AI technology must be reliable, secure and compatible with the existing systems and processes. It must also be able to handle complex and dynamic data, such as audio-visual or social media content (Gray et al., 2019). For example, AI technology must be able to cope with data quality issues, such as missing or inaccurate data.

Therefore, AI technology will extend and support the process alongside humans of discovery in law in New Zealand, but it will also require careful regulation and management to ensure its effective and ethical use (Lee et al., 2020).

If you would like to know more about the issues discussed in this article, please contact Stacey Wright.

This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the content dealt with. It should not be used in any specific situation, in which case you should seek specific legal advice.