ChatGPT-and-the-Law

Legally reviewed by:
King Law
May 16, 2024

ChatGPT is a new online chatbot tool that has been gaining popularity very quickly since it was released by OpenAI on November 30th, 2022. The tool works by typing in questions or prompts and receiving computer-generated answers. Only the prompts that you enter are written by a human being. All the rest of it is computer-generated and not edited or fact-checked whatsoever. OpenAI even includes disclaimers indicating that inaccuracies are possible on their website. While ChatGPT can often be helpful and correct, that is not always the case, leaving users of the tool vulnerable to believing false information.

As far as the use of ChatGPT goes in the legal field, it is a tool that could be disastrous. Because of the incredible importance of accuracy in providing legal advice to clients, the use of ChatGPT without fact-checking its computer-generated answers puts lawyers at risk of liability for malpractice.

One example of such malpractice took place in Federal Court during an airline tort case out of New York. Two attorneys who were representing the Plaintiff in this case utilized ChatGPT. They included in their brief multiple cases that seemingly did not exist. Upon reading the order, the judge for this case issued a show cause order for the attorneys to present the text of some of these cases to the court, seemingly because he could not find the cases anywhere. The attorneys were unable to provide the judge with one of these cases and had to admit to being unable to find the case online, although it is incredibly easy to find a case when you already have the citation, which was included in their original brief. Further, multiple other cases that they provided were only 5 pages long (approximately the extent of what ChatGPT will generate) and written in unusual form.

Because of this, opposing counsel submitted a letter to the judge explaining that they were questioning the authenticity of these short cases. The judge then issued a second show cause order, including the statement that the submissions by the Plaintiff’s counsel are “replete with citation to non-existent cases” and that some of “the submitted cases appear to be bogus judicial decision with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations.” He proceeded to then explain that the Plaintiff’s attorneys must show cause why they ought not to be sanctioned for submitting bogus cases. In response to this, the attorney admitted to his use of ChatGPT to perform the legal research for this case and explained how the bogus cases were used. The cases were not real cases. They were generated by ChatGPT, and the attorneys did not check their authenticity before using the cases in their brief. Even worse, the cases that were fabricated weren’t even fabricated in whole until the attorneys looked further into them for their initial show cause response. The attorneys included these fake cases in their brief only from small excerpts that ChatGPT generated when initially researching, rather than doing their due diligence in finding and reading the entire case from a credible legal research site. This entire situation ended in a hearing as to the attorneys being sanctioned for their fraudulent actions in using these fabricated cases.

This is just one example of how ChatGPT is a completely unreliable source in the legal field. ChatGPT is simply a generative artificial intelligence tool that uses its vast database to guess what should be said next, rather than providing valid and authentic legal information or advice. ChatGPT should never be blindly used by anyone in the legal profession to provide legal advice. Further, this tool should not be used by the average person to fill the role of their lawyer because it is not a credible and trustworthy source for legal information.

If you are located in North Carolina or South Carolina and need legal advice, please contact our offices and we will be glad to go over your options and possible outcomes for your case. Call our toll-free number at (888) 748-KING or request a consultation by completing our contact form.

Legally reviewed by:
King Law
Carolina Attorneys
May 16, 2024

This blog post has been reviewed and verified by legal experts at King Law. Our team is dedicated to providing premium legal services with compassion, innovation, trust, and advocacy. Serving Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, we offer flexible meeting options and strive to exceed client expectations with high-quality legal representation and exceptional client relationships.

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