Use this button to switch between dark and light mode.

Legal AI vs. ChatGPT: What Makes Them Different?

October 17, 2023 (4 min read)
A pair of hands typing on a laptop computer keyboard.

The commercial launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 touched off a global frenzy of excitement — and consternation — about the new technology known as generative artificial intelligence (AI).

We all learned quickly that generative AI tools represent an entirely new area of innovation because this technology is designed to actually create new content in the form of images, text, audio and more. Since the introduction of ChatGPT, we have seen other open web generative AI tools rolled out by Google (Bard), Microsoft (Bing Chat) and other tech giants.

These general-purpose generative AI tools have attracted such extraordinary interest because they are free to use, fairly easy to operate and are capable of generating content that serves very practical purposes — such as drafting emails, finding answers to a wide variety of search queries and summarizing lengthy documents.

Unfortunately, anyone who has put ChatGPT or another open web generative AI tool to the test has learned that this exciting new technology comes with some major risks. Most notably, since they are “trained” on the vast amount of content on the open web — some of it accurate, some of it not so much — these general-purpose generative AI tools are simply not reliable. Moreover, they do not have a human perspective from which to provide judgment and nuance, they do not have a bias detector and they do not have embedded fact-checking capabilities. They are simply guessing the next word in the results they surface based on the parameters with which the tool was trained … the internet.

Indeed, some of the lawyers who were early adopters of ChatGPT learned first-hand of the important limitations with these commercially available generative AI tools. The risk of using a piece of technology that “hallucinates” research results that are entirely made up out of thin air is simply not acceptable in the legal profession, where accuracy and reliability are embedded in the rules of conduct.

So how do you embrace the power of AI technology while avoiding the risks associated with general-purpose generative AI tools? Welcome to the fast-developing niche of Legal AI.

What is Legal AI?

Legal AI tools, such as Lexis+ AI, are technology platforms that have been specifically created, developed and trained for use in the practice of law. LexisNexis has been leading the way in the development of legal AI tools for years, working to provide lawyers with products that leverage the power of AI technology to support key legal tasks. In fact, we began using AI models such as Google’s BERT as early as 2018 and have included AI functionality in many of our products for quite some time now.

The emergence of generative AI, of course, is a game changer — and we have been on the leading edge of innovation with this new category of Legal AI technology. We have several search features in production today that use GPT-3, and we have been working with ChatGPT and GPT-4 since it was released. We also leverage other large language models that are appropriate for specific search use cases, including Anthropic. In fact, over the last 10 years, we have spent more than $1 billion investing in our technology stack so we can incorporate this breakthrough technology into our products.

Meet Lexis+ AI

With the rollout of Lexis+ AI, we’re now pioneering the use of generative AI for legal research, analysis and the presentation of results, with a focus on how these tools can enable legal professionals to achieve better outcomes. We are integrating our unsurpassed LexisNexis content database into Lexis+ AI to provide more precise parameters around what the AI engine draws upon when providing legal information.

This is one key thing that makes Lexis+ AI different. When you use the Lexis+ AI search feature, you receive results that are grounded in legal authority. As a user, you are not only presented with an answer to your query — you are also presented with a list of specific authorities so you can go back and check the statutes, case law or other grounding authorities to ensure complete accuracy. No more guessing by your generative AI tool and hoping the answers are true.

For legal practitioners, the emergence of generative AI tools represents both an exciting realm of opportunity to substantially increase workflow efficiency and a sober time for caution about how you proceed. This is why it is important to understand the significant differences between open web AI tools, such as ChatGPT, and legal AI tools, such as Lexis+ AI.

Legal AI holds enormous potential for improving lawyer productivity and freeing up practitioners from routine tasks so they can have more time to focus on legal strategy, counsel and advocacy — the skills they are uniquely qualified to practice. We invite you to follow our Legal Artificial Intelligence Tools web page, where we will share more information about our AI-powered solutions and how they can responsibly support the practice of law.