ABA Journal: Lawyers learn too late that chatbots aren’t built to be accurate; how are judges and bars responding?

A cold hard dose of reality!

The ABA Journal writes

At least two lawyers who apparently used artificial intelligence chatbots to write legal documents ended up losing their jobs after the output included phony case citations.

The Washington Post has a story on the lawyers and efforts to stave off more problems.

One lawyer, 29-year-old Zachariah Crabill, used ChatGPT to help him write a motion. He realized after filing the document with a Colorado court, however, that several of the case citations were fake.

Crabill apologized to the judge, but he was referred to attorney disciplinary authorities and fired from his Colorado Springs, Colorado, law firm. Now, he has a company and said he would still use AI in writing and research—but the tool has to be developed specifically for lawyers.

Another newly hired lawyer with the Dennis Block firm resigned after she apparently used AI to write a legal brief in an eviction case. An opposing attorney realized that the brief cited nonexistent caselaw, leading a judge in the case to impose a $999 penalty.

Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a computer scientist and director of the Center for Technology Responsibility at Brown University, told the Washington Post that he’s not surprised that AI chatbots are making up case citations.

“What’s surprising is that they ever produce anything remotely accurate,” he said.