Christopher F. Lyon, partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Management and Professional Liability practice group, explored the growing risks and repercussions of ChatGPT use by lawyers in NYLitigator, NYSBA’s Commercial & Federal Litigation Section publication.
Chris said staying updated on emerging technologies is often beneficial in the legal field, citing the success of early adopters of online legal research. However, he cautioned that early adoption also comes with risk as one must navigate the limitations and capabilities of any new technology and not assign it an undue level of trust.
“Placing unwarranted or unearned trust in any technology can, and eventually will, land you in hot water.”
The article goes on to suggest ChatGPT is such technology. Introduced in November of 2022, the use of ChatGPT has spread into the legal field, but using it runs the risk of the platform generating outdated or false information.
Chris delved into an analysis of Mata v. Avianca, Inc., in which attorneys, when opposing a motion to dismission, cited a decision that didn’t exist based on the responses given by ChatGPT. Reliance on ChatGPT throughout the case resulted in the attorney being ordered to show cause why he should not be sanctioned for citing non-existent cases.
A second order to show cause was issued and a ruling on the sanctions followed.
“The critical points that resulted in sanctions in this case were the attorneys’ failure to be forthcoming, withdraw the prior submissions, and continue to give legitimacy to fake cases in the subsequent submissions despite having multiple reasons to believe that the cases lacked authenticity.”
Chris recommends not using ChatGPT as a source for legal research given its primary function as a chatbot. Instead, he sees it as a tool best suited for writer’s block or to rephrase language.
“As attorneys, we must continue to serve as gatekeepers, ensure that we can stand by our representations, and proceed with our adoptions of technology with cautious optimism.”
MORE ABOUT GOLDBERG SEGALLA’S CHRISTOPHER F. LYON:
Christopher F. Lyon litigates complex commercial and professional liability matters. In addition to providing counsel and representation to businesses, including Directors & Officers, with actual or anticipated legal issues, Chris focuses on the representation of accounting firms of all sizes and individual accountants in professional liability matters. Chris also represents and defends lawyers, architects, engineers, and agents and brokers in various professional liability cases.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE: “Fake Cases, Real Consequences: Misuse of ChatGPT Leads to Sanctions,” NYLitigator, Vol. 28 No. 2
Reprinted with permission from the New York State Bar Association © 2023