Professors Amy Cyphert and Sean Tu Will Publish New Scholarship on AI, Legal Reasoning, Legal Research, and Legal Writing

West Virginia University College of Law professors  Amy Cyphert and Sean Tu will publish new scholarship with co-author Sam Perl (Carnegie Mellon University) in an upcoming volume of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology.  The article is titled "Artificial Intelligence: Legal Reasoning, Legal Research and Legal Writing" and is available now on SSRN:

From the abstract:

The key elements of a lawyer’s work can be broken into three component parts: legal search, creating legal arguments, and legal writing. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play an important role in each of these steps.

Legal search, the first key step in legal research, helps the lawyer understand the current black letter law and understand how the facts of her case may differ from current legal precedent. Legal search involves finding those cases that are most factually similar to the instant case. If a prior case is factually identical to the instant case, and from the same jurisdiction, little further analysis will be required. By retrieving the similar cases based on the facts of the case and other easily identified features (such as jurisdiction), AI methods using supervised learning are useful methods for performing this task.

However, legal analysis is not based solely on similar factual situations. Crafting legal arguments is possibly the most important step for a lawyer and requires the understanding of the public policy behind the law and the foundational legal theories that created the law. If the facts are not identical to a previous case, then understanding what facts are most important to distinguish a previous ruling, or to analogize to a previous ruling that is beneficial to the client’s position, can be the difference between winning or losing. This step requires understanding not only the key factual differences but also the underlying legal theory that is being used, as well as the role of public policy behind the law or previous precedential cases. Creating a legal argument requires analogical reasoning; AI’s unsupervised or even self-supervised learning may increasingly play an important role in helping lawyers create winning legal arguments.

Finally, crafting a legal memo or brief is the culmination of the lawyer’s legal research and legal arguments. Crafting a well-organized, well-written brief that highlights the key facts, issues, legal rules, and public policy arguments is crucial for producing effective descriptive and advocacy work. Generative AI models are increasingly using a technique called self-supervised learning. While AI may play an important role in creating first drafts, it has the potential to impede the lawyer’s creative process and could be detrimental to the profession if relied upon too heavily..

A headshot of Professor Sean Tu

Find more of of Professor Tu's scholarship on SSRN.

A headshot of Professor Amy Cyphert

Find Professor Cyphert's scholarship on SSRN and her SelectedWorks scholarship profile