Aug. 29, 2023

Professor awarded fellowship from OBA

Professor Gideon Christian was awarded the fellowship for his work on the ethics of generative AI

The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Foundation awards two Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowships in Legal Ethics and Professionalism each year. Professor Gideon Christian's research "Ethical Framework for the Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Legal Profession" aims to develop ethical rules to regulate the use of Generative AI in the legal profession. Regulating the use of generative AI in the legal profession is one of the biggest professionalism issues faced by the profession today.

"I was delighted to receive the news of the fellowship award, says Christian. "This important research seeks to address one of the most fundamental problems facing the legal profession today – regulating the use of generative AI like ChatGPT in law practice. This problem will grow as more sophisticated version of generative AI are developed by the industry."

While generative AI has the potential to radically transform legal practice for good if properly regulated, failure to properly regulate the use of the technology could result in professionalism issues for lawyer, as well as failure by the profession to maximally benefit from technological advancement. 

During the fellowship, Christian will conduct research to develop ethical guideline for the use of generative AI in the legal profession. The need for this guideline has been evident in recent cases where the use of the technology has resulted in the filing of bogus legal materials before the court thus undermining judicial and public trust in the use of generative AI technologies in the profession. An ethical guideline for the use of the technology in law practice will enhance technological advancement in the profession, and build judicial and public trust in the use of the technology before the court. 

"My research resonates deeply with the University of Calgary Faculty of Law's innovative approach to legal education. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we responded to the biggest challenge facing the legal profession then by introducing the eLitigation course to train students to commence and conduct litigation virtually. Now with generative AI and ChatGPT presenting another bigger challenge to the legal profession, this research will put the University of Calgary's law school at the forefront of pioneering the solution."