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Law Students and AI: The Challenges for Law Academics

Dara Dimitrov, University of Waikato


Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the tertiary student experience, including how they learn, communicate, and work. While AI tools have promising implications for the future of many other professions (like administration roles), the role of AI within the legal profession is not yet settled. More concerning is law students are using AI with impunity because most universities fail to have the appropriate detection software. It is only when a law academic has read the same assignment with the same structure several times that they become aware of how pervasive AI use is. Moreover, as legal scholars, many are already familiar with the hallucinations produced by AI models when marking student assignments.

Yet, as law academics, our primary concern is the integrity of a student’s work because ensuring that graduating students possess the requisite professional skillset for the legal profession is of the utmost importance. From this perspective, this paper delves into the practical implications of AI on this crucial aspect of legal training. Using examples from the author’s own teaching practices, this paper reflects on the way in which law students are using AI and whether it undermines the development of legal skills.

Finally, this paper seeks to understand if AI has a place in legal education. AI is being touted as transforming the student experience, but it is argued that the inherent elements of AI creation are not well suited to the specialised areas of law, legal problem-solving or even legal advice. A traditional legal education hones not only mastery in critical thinking but also writing performance; by its very nature, this is not a passive learning experience. It is still unclear whether a student can earn a law degree by using AI. However, the use of AI by legal practitioners has already forced the legal profession to acknowledge the potential risks of using AI in the courts.