Judge Scott U. Schlegel: A Call for Education Over Regulation (Artificial Intelligence)

Judge Scott U. Schlegel of the Fifth Circuit Court of the State of Louisiana currently serves as Chair of the Louisiana Supreme Court Technology Commission, and is recognized as a pioneer in using technology in the Louisiana State Courts. He has managed what is considered by many to be one of the most advanced technology courts in the nation in terms of delivering online justice.

According to the Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals of the State of Louisiana website,  “he is the Immediate Past President of the Louisiana District Judges Association (LDJA) and serves on many other committees. Judge Schlegel has received numerous awards including the National Center for State Courts’ 26th Annual William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the highest judicial honors in the country. Judge Schlegel was also featured on the cover of the American Bar Association Journal and is a nationally recognized speaker on legal tech and the modernization of the justice system including matters related to artificial intelligence and the law,”

Judge Schlegel has also been appointed as a member of the Advisory Council of the ABA Taskforce on Law and Artificial Intelligence in recognition of  his efforts to understand and communicate the important issues and challenges related law and artificial intelligence.  On November 28,2023, Judge Schlegel wrote the following open letter which we think is an important addition to this discourse and needs to be distributed widely. Therefore we are reproducing Judge Schlegel’s letter, titled A Call for Education Over Regulation An Open Letter in full and hope you will find it helpful:

Dear Colleagues –

In my humble opinion, an order specifically prohibiting the use of generative AI or requiring a disclosure of its use is unnecessary, duplicative, and may lead to unintended consequences. And I say this as a sitting Judge in the State of Louisiana, who frequently speaks on the topic.

The legal profession is already guided by stringent ethical standards and professional responsibilities. Rules 1.1, 1.6, and 3.3 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct adequately address issues of competence, confidentiality, and candor, all of which are pertinent to the use of generative AI technologies. And Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1 even includes explicit guidance on lawyers’ use of technology. Further, Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (and each state equivalent) already mandates that anyone who files a pleading or motion with the court must certify its correctness and veracity by way of signature. An additional, AI-specific order is not only redundant but could also create confusion given the rapid adoption of such tools in everyday products, like Westlaw, Lexis and Microsoft Office. Will the court require a certification if a lawyer simply uses generative AI to clean up a few paragraphs that don’t even contain a single case citation? 

Moreover, the rapid evolution of AI technology means any specific order could quickly become outdated, limiting its practical utility. Over regulation in this area might also inadvertently stifle innovation and discourage the legal profession from leveraging beneficial technologies.  It is crucial that lawyers retain the ability to exercise judgment in how best to incorporate generative AI tools, adhering to our existing ethical framework. This approach encourages a balanced integration of technology, fostering innovation while upholding the core values of our profession. 

In summary, while the intention behind an AI-specific order is understandable, I believe our current rules are sufficiently robust to encompass the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI. A focus on education and adaptability within these existing frameworks would be a more effective way forward. 

Thank you for considering my perspective on this important issue.

By the way, in the spirit of full transparency, I wanted to let you know that I drafted this letter using ChatGPT-4. And I assume that such a revelation might now prompt you to reevaluate my comments with a more skeptical lens, which underscores my final point: the concern that judges may inherently be dismissive of arguments that are drafted with the assistance of generative AI, perceiving them as less authentic or persuasive. However, this perspective overlooks a crucial aspect. Generative AI, much like any tool, is only as effective as the legal expertise guiding it. The value of content generated through AI parallels that of a first draft by a junior associate or law clerk. We don’t mandate disclosures for such assistance because the ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of the filing rests with the attorney or self-represented litigant.

Thank you once again for considering my views on this matter.


Judge Scott U. Schlegel








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