Are we humans becoming obsolete? The buzz around ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform, has reached a fever pitch. It can write everything from poetry to press releases. Everyday brings a new article about what ChatGPT did or what jobs it might replace. Researchers recently have made this AI tool take the bar exam. According to the ABA Bar Journal, while prior versions of ChatGPT had fallen short, ChatGPT-4 passed—scoring high marks in the MBE and doing well enough on the Multistate Essay Examination and Multistate Performance Test (no studying required). If you are preparing for the bar exam, this may discourage you at first. Will the future need human lawyers? Why am I preparing so hard for this exam? Is all of this study and anxiety worth it? I argue that it is worth it and that you should find motivation in ChatGPT’s bar exam success.
Why is AI Taking the Bar Exam?
AI may take over the planet, à la Skynet, but in the meantime, take pride in your bar preparation efforts. Researchers are testing ChatGPT against the bar exam not because the bar exam is easy. The bar exam is being used to test ChatGPT because the bar exam is very hard. It is a standard for complex critical human thinking. You are working so hard because you are attempting to pass an exam so challenging that researchers thought it was tough enough to challenge the best and brightest AI. Take pride in that. You are striving to clear a high hurdle; you are engaged in a bold endeavor. (What to read about a few famous people that failed the bar before going on to make historic contributions to the world? Read Alexandria Muskat’s post, Five Famous People Who Failed the Bar.) Use that difficulty to motivate you. This is unlike any of the many standardized tests you have taken in your academic career. Get excited about the challenge and then get determined to succeed.
You Can Do Hard Things
The exam may be hard, but you control how prepared you are when you sit for the exam. Zoila Sanchez concludes her Bar Exam Toolbox blog post, Why is the Bar So Challenging? with the following: “Remember that as scary as approaching the exam can be, you can take matters into your own hands. Confront this challenge, and get to the other side to make yourself proud.” She is exactly right. Ultimately, whether others can pass the exam or whether an AI chatbot can pass the exam, the challenge in front of you is a personal one. Your preparation is in your own hands. Embrace your bar prep time and make the most of it. You can do hard things. Your human determination can grow to meet the unique challenge of the bar exam.
Focus on What You Can Control
Don’t let extrinsic fears of AI robots cause you to lose focus. This is your time to prepare, and you cannot afford to lose a week of that time pondering the questions of artificial intelligence and the future of the legal profession. Once you pass the bar exam and are admitted to the bar, you can write your own great opinion piece on the pros and cons of AI in the legal profession, but for now, keep your focus on the task at hand. Keep to your plan, stay motivated, and don’t worry about ChatGPT taking your future job. When your all-too-human mind starts to wander during your bar prep, don’t despair. You may not be a computer, but you can always redouble your efforts to keep your focus on your bar preparation—it is the one thing you can control.
Preparing for and sitting for the bar exam is not for the faint of heart. Even the earlier versions of ChatGPT could not pass it. Be proud that AI is being tested by taking the bar exam. Be proud that you are challenging yourself. Be proud that you are making the most of your preparation time. Keep preparing hard so that when you sit for the exam you know you have put in the work to be as prepared as humanly possible!
Appendix/Study Break Material
All of that said, if you still need some encouragement that your struggle is worthwhile even with ChatGPT getting “smarter” all of the time, here are some quick articles from experts explaining why AI won’t replace real, live attorneys just yet.
Mary Lu Bilek & Deborah Merritt, Opinion, ChatGPT Almost Passed the Bar, But Competent Lawyers Do Much More, Bloomberg Law (Feb. 13, 2023, 3:00 AM), https://news.bloomberglaw.com/business-and-practice/chatgpt-almost-passed-the-bar-but-competent-lawyers-do-much-more.
Luke Henkhaus, Will AI Put Layers Out of Work? A Texas A&M Expert Says It’s Unlikely, Texas A&M Today (February 9, 2023), https://today.tamu.edu/2023/02/09/will-ai-put-lawyers-out-of-work-a-texas-am-expert-says-its-unlikely/?utm_content=237821051&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-15101538.
Melissa Castro Wyatt, Why Lawyers Won’t Be Entirely Replaced by Robots, University of Virginia School of Law (Dec. 5, 2022), https://www.law.virginia.edu/news/202212/why-lawyers-wont-be-entirely-replaced-robots.