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California: State Bar approves guidance on use of generative AI in the practice of law

On November 16, 2023, the State Bar of California approved the Practical Guidance for the Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law. The State Bar highlighted that the guidance aims to assist lawyers in navigating their ethical obligations when using generative artificial intelligence (AI).

The scope of the guidance

The guidance examines the use of generative AI in the practice of law in areas including the duty of confidentiality, competence, as well as diligence, and communications regarding generative AI use. The guidance highlights that lawyers must not input any confidential information of the client into any generative AI solutions that lack adequate confidentiality and security protections, and must anonymize client information. In regard to due diligence, the guidance stipulates that before using generative AI, lawyers should understand to a reasonable degree how the technology works, its limitations, and the applicable terms of use, other policies governing the use, and exploitation of client data by the product. Finally, in regard to disclosure, the guidance notes that lawyers should consider disclosure to clients of the fact that they intend to use generative AI, including how the technology will be used and the benefits and risks of such use.

Lastly, the State Bar confirmed that the guidance will be a living document that is periodically updated as the technology evolves and matures, and as new issues are presented.

You can read the press release here and the guidance here.