American Bar Association and AI

In a previous posting on this blog, Reflections of a Retired Law Librarian: From Mimeograph to Generative AI, I urged professional organizations, including the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), to appoint committees or commissions at the highest level to  facilitate the development and implementation of standards sufficient to address the real ethical and safety concerns related  to the increasingly rapid adaption of AI, including  Generative AI, as a technology of choice in the workplace.

It is gratifying to learn from recent announcements from the American Bar Association that it has already been taking steps to address the legal challenges of Ai faced by the legal community. As Mary L. Smith, President of the American Bar Association, has said: “As a national voice for the legal profession, the ABA must play a  leadership role in helping to identify for the legal community the benefits and risks of continually changing AI and machine learning systems and capabilities.”

Measures already taken by ABA include Resolution 112 adopted in August, 2019, Resolution 604 adopted in February, 2023, various articles and podcasts published by its various Sections, including the ABA Business Law Section and the Sci Tech Lawyer published by the ABA Science and Technology Section.

The following is an excerpt from a February 8, 2023, posting on the Electronic Privacy Information Center website commenting on the importance and implications of the ABA House of Delegates Resolution 604, which was adopted at their 2023 Midyear Meeting:

“This week the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a new policy holding individuals and organizations that develop, deploy, and use artificial intelligence (AI) systems and capabilities accountable for the consequences caused by the use of AI systems and capabilities, unless they have taken reasonable measures to mitigate against that harm or injury. The policy also urges developers, integrators, suppliers, and operators of AI systems and capabilities ensure their products are subject to human authority, oversight, and control, and ensure the traceability and transparency of their AI products. Most significantly, the policy states that the ABA ‘urges Congress, federal executive agencies, and State legislatures and regulators, to follow these guidelines in legislation and standards pertaining to AI’ “.

Perhaps most importantly, the ABA has recently convened a taskforce with a broad mandate to address these issues as they relate to the legal profession. Quoting from  the September 4, 2023, issue of Legal News of the Week: “The new ABA Task Force on Law and Artificial Intelligence will look at how AI can increase access to justice and develop legal technology resources. The conference is the association’s latest offering to help lawyers manage the complexities of the new technologies that promise profound change for the legal profession.”

The Taskforce will provide lawyers with practical information about:

Developments on the use of AI for law and the legal profession;

Tips and tools to navigate this complex technology;

Insights on the development and use of AI in a trustworthy and responsible manner;

Recommendations and reports on high priority issues.

The ABA Taskforce on Law and Artificial Intelligence is chaired by Lucy L. Thomson, an attorney and cybersecurity engineer based in Washington, D.C.  Thomson has held various other leadership positions within ABA related to cybersecurity and is known as a proven leader in this field.

In addition to Chairperson Thomson, the Taskforce consists of 18 regular members, a distinguished Advisory Council of 22 members, and a group of Special Advisors who are thought leaders in law, technology and cybersecurity.

The American Bar Association under the leadership of its current president, Mary L. Smith, is to be congratulated for stepping forward to perform “a leadership role in helping to identify for the legal community the benefits and risks of continually changing AI and machine learning systems and capabilities.” Hopefully other organizations will follow.


Electronic Privacy Information Center. ABA Adopts New AI Accountability Resolution.

ABA Launches AI Focused Task Force

ABA.  Law and Artificial Intelligence Resources.

ABA. Big Problems (and benefits) of Generative AI.

ABA. Highlights of the Issues

ABA. Top News of the Week “Artificial Intelligence Task Force Explores Legal Impact.

Contact Information