How Does AI Affect Client Confidentiality?

When you hear “artificial intelligence (AI),” you might picture advanced robots destroying civilization. While this makes for interesting movies, it is far from reality. 

In our digital age, advanced tools such as AI can be extremely helpful in streamlining time-consuming processes. Just like humans, AI bots have access to the infinite amount of information that is publicly available on the internet. Unlike humans, this information can be read through and summarized in seconds. 

AI bots use a process called machine learning, which helps them analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and make predictions. They do not have the ability to create their own ideas or beliefs – they can only learn from what is already available. 

This fast-evolving technology has plenty of uses – and risks. For example, if it learns on a data set that is biased, the AI will produce biased outcomes. Furthermore, if it is not programmed to recognize ethical limitations, it can quickly become harmful.

Experts in law are having to consider these technological dilemmas as AI becomes more integrated with legal work.

The Benefits of AI in the Legal World

As you might have gathered, AI can make tedious tasks quick and easy. This includes research, which is a cornerstone of the legal world. 

So, instead of scouring the internet, analyzing the data, taking notes, and summarizing these notes into a conclusion – a process which will likely take hours – you can ask an AI assistant to research the question at hand, and they will provide a result within seconds. 

This is the most common way AI has assisted the legal world, however, it is far from the only way. AI can also help review and draft contracts. It can be trained to notice the patterns in contracts which are consistent and predictable or to notice areas of contracts that seem risky or exploitative. 

Finally, AI can be used in communications and collaborations. Chatbots can help to  answer clients’ questions and provide support throughout the legal process. In addition, AI can improve document collaboration, reading through tedious paperwork and summarizing important changes, or suggesting areas that lack adequate data and explanation.

When tedious and time-consuming assignments are reduced to simple tasks, attorneys can spend more time on the areas of law that truly need their human expertise. This includes getting to know their clients, directing their colleagues, and creating persuasive arguments.

While this all may sound like a great advantage in our fast-moving world, there are also ethical considerations that must be considered. A major one is the boundary of client-attorney confidentiality. 

Understanding Client-Attorney Confidentiality

Client-attorney confidentiality is a core principle in the legal world. This ensures that communications between the two parties remain private, and the advice exchanged cannot be used against the client.

This creates a professional relationship based on trust. The client can provide as much information as possible without fear of negative consequences. In return, the attorney can provide the best legal counsel in the best interest of the client. 

Even more importantly, this confidentiality can protect the client from unforeseen consequences of an undetermined case. For example, sensitive information can be used to blackmail a person, even if this information was not made available during the court proceedings.

Client confidentiality is a major responsibility that falls on the shoulders of all legal professionals. If it is not properly upheld, attorneys might face professional discipline, malpractice claims, and even disbarment.

Because AI tools are so new and widely misunderstood, they present new threats of breached confidentiality. These tools may inadvertently disclose sensitive information to third parties or create vulnerabilities for cyber hackers to infiltrate.

It is important to emphasize AI does not do this out of malicious intent because it is simply not capable of malicious intent. It can only work within the parameters of its programming, so if confidentiality is not considered in its development, the AI will not know any better.

How AI Can Be Used to Protect Client Confidentiality 

Weighing the benefits against the risks, you might be wondering if AI tools are worth it. The answer is yes, as this is the future of the workforce. However, we must use AI carefully and have strict standards for its usage.

AI tools in the legal field must incorporate data privacy and digital security throughout the development process. When legal firms outsource these tools to third-party programmers, they must emphasize this need and verify it is being met. 

Another important step is encryption. This safety precaution works like a secret code, transforming data into unintelligible forms. Law firms must employ end-to-end encryption for all communications and data storage involving sensitive client information. This makes it impossible for the data to be deciphered, even in case it is accessed by a third party. 

AI software must also be regularly audited by digital security experts. These experts evaluate the AI’s processes, monitor user access, and identify the vulnerable areas that hackers are looking for. They can also help ensure that the AI tool itself, along with the data collected, is only accessible to the privileged users who need it. 

Finally, the employees who are tasked with using AI must be trained and well-informed of potential consequences. All these steps are integral to protecting client-attorney confidentiality in the digital age.

Nationwide & International Legal Services

Here at Torri’s Legal Services, we understand the precarious balance between innovation and client protection. We take confidentiality very seriously, which is why so many individuals and legal firms trust us to help with their biggest cases.

We provide a variety of legal services across the nation and across the globe. This includes process serving, skip tracing, document retrieval, and more.

Contact our team today to learn how we can assist you. 

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