Lawyer Faces Punishment for Using ChatGPT in Client’s Case

ChatGPT Chatbot by OpenAI
ChatGPT Chatbot by OpenAI

Attorney Steven Schwartz of the law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman used ChatGPT while preparing documents for a client’s case. The lawyer “didn’t know” about the chatbot’s ability to generate false content, writes The New York Times.

Levidow, Levidow & Oberman sued the Latin American airline Avianca on behalf of Roberto Mata. He claimed to have sustained a knee injury after being hit by a metal serving cart while flying to JFK Airport.

When Avianca’s lawyers asked Judge Kevin Castel to dismiss the lawsuit, Mata’s lawyers produced a 10-page report explaining why it needed to be considered.

The document cited court decisions in several cases such as Varghese v. China Southern Airlines and Miller v. United Airlines. However, the judge and Avianca’s lawyers could not find the precedents mentioned in the report in the databases.

It turned out that Schwartz was using ChatGPT to “complete” his research on the case.

“I was not aware of the possibility that the content [созданный алгоритмом] may be false,” he wrote in a sworn letter.

Schwartz also provided screenshots of an AI chat where he asked the bot about the reality of the listed cases. ChatGPT responded that these precedents can be found in “reputable legal databases” including Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Lawyer Faces Punishment for Using ChatGPT in Client's Case
Screenshot of Steven Schwartz’s chat with ChatGPT. Data: Steven Schwartz.

Schwartz says he “really regrets” using ChatGPT. The lawyer vowed to “never do this again in the future without full AI content verification.”

The judge called “unprecedented” a situation in which “the interpretation of a legal position consists of false judgments, references and quotations.” He scheduled Schwartz a hearing to consider “possible penalties” for June 8, 2023.

Recall that in January, the AI ​​startup DoNotPay offered lawyers $ 1 million for the use of an AI lawyer in the US Supreme Court.

In the same month, the head of the company said professional associations in some states threatened him and his company with lawsuits. Because of this, DoNotPay has delayed the use of an AI lawyer in an upcoming litigation.

In March, the startup was accused of illegal legal practice.

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