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UWC Law Considers AI’s Role in the Future of Legal Education

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a reality in higher education, and at the University of the Western Cape, the Law Faculty is using it for teaching and learning.

The UWC plagiarism policy guides the faculty but also develops faculty-specific guidelines for law students who need to approach AI technology in a nuanced and balanced way.

Law Faculty Teaching and Learning Specialist Dr Conrad Potberg said that maintaining academic integrity is at the heart of using AI. “We’re more concerned about integrity and the academic program in the faculty. Students tend to use AI just to solve problems quickly. We’re not opposed to AI in the faculty, but we’re opposed to using the AI’s results exactly as is without actually verifying the information that’s been provided,” said Dr Potberg.

 

The benefits of AI in law lectures are clear. It can assist with understanding case law, legal texts, contract drafting, and legal definitions. However, Dr  Potberg cautions that students need to learn how to use AI and Chatbots effectively and consider only using them as a starting point to enhance their learning, not as the result of their work.

 

AI algorithms can analyse large volumes of legal documents, helping students identify relevant information quickly. This is particularly useful when reviewing extended texts or arguments, but students must be grounded in theory to know what to use and reject from the AI summaries.

AI can also assist in assessing legal risks, ensuring compliance with regulations, and identifying potential legal issues, for example, in contracts and agreements.

UWC Law students and staff are shown ethical and responsible ways to use AI in teaching and learning.

 

He said using AI to predict legal outcomes is another way for students to learn: “We can give AI the facts of a case as well as what the issues are in a matter? We can then see what the AI’s “court” decision is as well as its reasoning and the impact of the decision, and then when the actual judgment is delivered, we can see what the differences between the actual decision and the AI judgment and reasoning are. It should be noted that this approach would require appropriate prompts for the AI.”

 

Artificial intelligence can empower the next generation of legal minds, and the UWC Law Faculty staff needs to continue to learn how to best use and embrace AI tools in teaching and learning.

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