Lawyer Reprimanded for Using Chat GPT in Legal Research

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Reliance on Artificial Intelligence Growing Across Industries

As ChatGPT grows in popularity, there has been increasing speculation that it will disrupt many white-collar jobs, even replacing workers. There is considerable debate surrounding which industries are at risk of losing their jobs to ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence systems that purportedly can research, synthesize, and even write complex documents that mirror human professionals. There has been some speculation that even lawyers are at risk of losing to these processors, although a recent case would suggest otherwise.

Lawyer Faces Discipline For Submitting Brief Prepared by ChatGPT

In a recent lawsuit against Avianca airline New York lawyer cited purported caselaw regarding a technical issue related to the statute of limitations after opposing counsel sought to have the suit dismissed. However, the caselaw cited in the brief did not exist. It was wholly invented by so-called artificial intelligence or AI.  After several orders from the judge to produce the cases cited by the lawyer, he was eventually forced to admit that he had used ChatGPT to conduct his legal research and that the search engine had made up legal decisions and quotations cited in the brief out of whole cloth, and now faces potential legal discipline over the case. What seems remarkable is that the technology had even affirmed to the lawyer that the cases were real when he directly asked it to verify its accuracy, essentially lying or producing entirely false results to the lawyer. Although it is clear that ChatGPT is an impressive tool, this case shows the limitations of such technologies and why defendants need to ensure that they are represented by counsel that are not using such technology as a short cut to real representation.

Although this issue arises from representation in a civil case, we feel compelled to discuss it because it is a reminder that there are many lawyers out there willing to take shortcuts. When your liberty is at stake, and everything is on the line, make sure you seek out an experienced, ethical, and hardworking lawyer who won’t take shortcuts during their representation of you.


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