New Zealand Law Society - Law Society releases Generative AI guidance for lawyers

Law Society releases Generative AI guidance for lawyers

The New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has today published guidance on the use of Generative AI (Gen AI), outlining the opportunities, risks and how to balance these while embracing AI’s potential in enhancing the delivery of legal services.  

Law Society Chief Executive Katie Rusbatch says, “While there is no overarching regulation for the use of AI in New Zealand, all lawyers are ultimately responsible for the legal services they provide.” 

“Gen AI is rapidly emerging as a tool that opens exciting new opportunities for the provision of and access to legal services. However, there are also risks and ethical issues that need to be carefully managed for lawyers.” 

When lawyers use Gen AI tools in their work, “at a minimum, privacy, and fair -trading requirements will apply in addition to obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 (RCCC).” 

“As users enjoy the convenience and other benefits that Gen AI brings, it poses risks in privacy, data protection and cyber security. It can also give rise to questions about who owns the input and output data. Potential users can be at risk of inadvertently infringing intellectual property rights. 

“Lawyers should take care to consider an AI provider’s Terms of Service, ensuring contractual provisions do not potentially place a lawyer in breach of professional and legal obligations including those relating to legally privileged, confidential, or personal information.” 

“To continue to build a strong, progressive and trusted legal profession collectively, the guidance aims to support lawyers as they navigate the complex environment of AI.  

“AI provides the opportunity to harness its benefits for routine administrative tasks, engaging with potential clients via chatbots, summarising large quantities of information, research, generating templates and drafting documentation for the mutual benefit of clients and lawyers. However, careful use of the technology is required to mitigate risks to lawyers as service providers and their clients as the ultimate consumers of legal services.” 

As the use of the technology develops, Ms Rusbatch adds that lawyers may need to review their billing practices and the information that is provided to clients at the start of a retainer.  

A significant amount of work is happening both in New Zealand and internationally to set out expectations and guidelines to help safeguard users and the wider public from the application of AI. 

“We’d like to extend our gratitude to the Law Society of England and Wales for sharing their guidance Generative AI – the essentials and allowing the Law Society to draw on and adapt it for the New Zealand context.” 

Read the full Generative AI guidance for lawyers 

Download checklist: use of AI – the essentials