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Advice for cross-border litigators – courtesy of ChatGPT

Friday 28 April 2023

Alex Walsdorf
Chaffetz Lindsey LLP, New York

Many of us have heard of ChatGPT, which is short for ‘Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer.’ This artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, developed by OpenAI and launched this past November, has taken the United States by storm. According to Reuters, ChatGPT has set the record for the fastest-growing user base, reaching 100 million monthly active users within the first two months of its release.[1]

I decided to see what ChatGPT might have to offer in the way of advice for associates like myself who are interested in cross-border litigation. Prior to asking the following questions, I informed ChatGPT that ‘I would like to conduct an interview with you, where you answer my questions from the perspective of an associate at a law firm who specialises in cross-border litigation.’ 

The following conversation ensued:

Q: Generally speaking, what is cross-border litigation?

A: Cross-border litigation refers to a legal dispute that involves parties from different countries or jurisdictions. It can arise when individuals or businesses engage in activities that transcend national borders and cross into other legal jurisdictions, leading to conflicts that require legal resolution. Cross-border litigation can be complex and challenging due to the diverse legal systems, cultural differences, and language barriers that may come into play. As a result, it requires specialised legal expertise and experience to effectively navigate the process and achieve a successful outcome.

Q: What is one of the most interesting things about cross-border litigation?

A: One of the most interesting aspects of cross-border litigation is the opportunity to work with and learn from legal professionals from different countries and legal systems. Cross-border litigation often requires lawyers to collaborate with local counsel in the foreign jurisdiction, which can provide valuable insights into the local legal system and cultural norms. This can broaden the lawyer’s understanding of legal issues and enhance their ability to navigate complex cross-border disputes. Additionally, cross-border litigation can also involve novel legal issues that require lawyers to think creatively and strategically to achieve a successful outcome. The constantly evolving nature of cross-border litigation also means that there is always something new to learn and new challenges to tackle.

Q: What is one of the biggest trends in cross-border litigation?

A: One of the biggest trends in cross-border litigation is the increasing use of technology to manage and resolve disputes. Technology-assisted methods, such as e-discovery, virtual hearings, and online dispute resolution, have become more prevalent in cross-border litigation, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The use of technology can help to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and overcome some of the logistical challenges of cross-border litigation, such as language barriers and travel restrictions. In addition, the use of technology can also enhance transparency and facilitate communication between parties in different jurisdictions. Overall, the increasing use of technology in cross-border litigation is expected to continue as technology continues to advance and more legal professionals become comfortable with its use in dispute resolution.

Q: What is one common misconception about cross-border litigation?

A: One common misconception about cross-border litigation is that it is always more complicated and difficult than domestic litigation. While cross-border disputes can present unique challenges, such as dealing with multiple legal systems and languages, they are not always more complex than domestic disputes. In fact, some cross-border disputes may be more straightforward than domestic disputes, depending on the nature of the dispute and the jurisdictions involved.

Q: Do I need to know a second (or third) language to be successful in cross-border litigation?

A: While it’s not strictly necessary to know a second or third language to be successful in cross-border litigation, it can be an advantage in certain cases. If you’re working on a cross-border dispute involving parties from different countries, it’s possible that the parties or the documents involved in the case may be in a language other than your native language. 

In such cases, having proficiency in the relevant language can help you better understand the case and communicate effectively with the parties involved. It can also make it easier to review documents and other materials that are not in your native language. 

That being said, if you don’t know a second or third language, there are other ways to handle language barriers in cross-border litigation. For example, you can work with a translator or interpreter to help you communicate with the parties involved and understand the relevant documents and materials. Some law firms also have access to translation services or may work with outside firms that specialise in translation and interpretation. 

In short, while knowing a second or third language can be beneficial in cross-border litigation, it’s not necessarily a requirement for success. As long as you’re able to effectively manage language barriers and communicate with the parties involved, you can still be successful in this field.

Q: Do you have a piece of advice for lawyers trying to gain experience in cross-border litigation?

A: Yes, one important piece of advice for lawyers trying to gain experience in cross-border litigation is to be adaptable and open-minded. Cross-border litigation often involves navigating unfamiliar legal systems, cultural differences, and language barriers, so it is important to be flexible and willing to learn.

***

While I had already read quite a bit about ChatGPT before conducting this ‘interview’, I was nonetheless surprised at how the answers it gave were virtually indistinguishable from what a (knowledgeable) human interlocutor might have told me. As our conversation shows, ChatGPT is sure to change how we practise law. Indeed, some people have said that it will render lawyers obsolete. I do not have that grim of a prognosis, but one thing is clear: lawyers should consider how they might utilise ChatGPT in their day-to-day tasks. Whether we ask the AI to look into a research question or write the first draft of an email, ChatGPT has the potential to make us all more efficient.[2] But, because it is still in its infancy, the work ChatGPT performs should always be checked for accuracy; it is susceptible to mistakes, and at times, the AI simply makes things up. But it is certainly good for answering routine questions. And its capabilities are sure to improve quite rapidly going forward. 

 

[1]Krystal Hu, ChatGPT Sets Record for Fastest-Growing User Base, REUTERS (2 Feb. 2023), available at https://www.reuters.com/technology/chatgpt-sets-record-fastest-growing-user-base-analyst-note-2023-02-01/.

[2]Of course, you should be careful about the data you provide to ChatGPT to ensure that you do not disclose any confidential, sensitive, or privileged information.