A middle-aged New York lawyer named Steven Schwartz first learned about ChatGPT through his children. He figured this new “super search engine” could help him with a brief he was writing for his client, who was suing Avianca Airlines after being injured by a metal drinks cart on a flight from El Salvador to New York.
After being plied with details about the case, ChatGPT generated a list of decisions with names like “Martinez v. Delta Air Lines, Zicherman v. Korean Air Lines, and Varghese v. China Southern Airlines.” Schwartz then incorporated the citations into his argument and filed the resulting brief in federal district court. Shortly after, Avianca’s lawyers discovered that the cases didn’t exist—that ChatGPT had completely made them up.
I empathize with Mr. Schwartz.
When ChatGPT first debuted on November 30th, 2022, I was studying for my civil procedure exam. I asked the program to write a rap about remittitur and additur, defining these two obscure concepts for me. Within seconds, it generated lyrics that explained both terms using language that was crisp and accessible; it even rhymed.
First, I laughed at the sheer miracle of it all. Then I pasted the “song” into my outline. I didn’t bother checking its accuracy. Like Schwartz, I couldn’t “comprehend that ChatGPT could fabricate cases,” or fabricate anything, really. Who was I to doubt this all-knowing Artificial Intelligence at my disposal, especially if its outputs seemed correct?
I lost interest in using ChatGPT rather quickly. A few Civ Pro vocab words aside, the program wasn’t a viable substitute for my own research and writing: both because I enjoy intellectual labor, and because I clocked a range of problems that could arise out of having a robot do my work for me.
But again, I really do empathize with Mr. Schwartz. Like Schwartz, I blindly trusted generative AI technology when I first encountered it; and like Schwartz, I have been tasked with mundane assignments that I’ve tried to complete as soon as possible, with minimal effort. In fact, I’m only writing this essay because it’s a requisite part of my duties as a staffer on the Journal of Law & the Arts. (No offense to the lovely JLA. This ended up being pretty fun.)
So, Mr. Schwartz’s story got me thinking. What if I had simply asked ChatGPT to write this post for me, to save me a few hours of my life? Now that I’ve reached the minimum word count for this assignment using my measly human brain, let’s take a look at what the program produced when I asked it to respond to the following prompt.
“Write me a 200-word blog post, with a title, in the style of Hunter S. Thompson, about a man who submitted a legal brief to a federal court using ChatGPT.”
Title: "The Madness of Justice: A Legal Odyssey with ChatGPT"
In the seedy underbelly of the American legal system, where the thin line between sanity and madness often blurs into oblivion, a man dared to embark on a journey like no other. Armed with nothing but a keyboard and a digital accomplice known as ChatGPT, he embarked on a legal odyssey that would shake the very foundations of federal courtrooms.
As I sat in my dimly lit office, nursing a whiskey and contemplating the absurdity of existence, I received an anonymous tip about this modern-day Don Quixote. This audacious character had submitted a legal brief to a federal court, and it wasn't the run-of-the-mill gibberish one might expect. No, it was a masterpiece of chaotic brilliance, a psychedelic swirl of legal jargon and surreal reasoning.
The man had harnessed the power of ChatGPT, a digital beast capable of weaving intricate legal arguments with the whimsy of Lewis Carroll and the audacity of H.P. Lovecraft. The brief was a mind-bending journey through the corridors of jurisprudence, where precedent and reason had been cast aside in favor of a wild dance of words and ideas.
In the end, the court was left in a state of bewilderment, unable to decipher the man's mad genius. And though his legal quest may have ended in failure, his legacy lives on as a testament to the unhinged brilliance that can be unleashed when man and machine collide in the name of justice.
 Nate Schweber & Benjamin Weiser, The ChatGPT Lawyer Explains Himself, N.Y. Times (June 8, 2023), https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/08/nyregion/lawyer-chatgpt-sanctions.html [https://perma.cc/38JB-FRYK] [https://web.archive.org/web/20230000000000*/https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/08/nyregion/lawyer-chatgpt-sanctions.html].
 Sabrina Ortiz, What is ChatGPT and Why Does it Matter? Here’s What You Need to Know, ZD Net (Sept. 15, 2023), https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-chatgpt-and-why-does-it-matter-heres-everything-you-need-to-know/ [https://perma.cc/RMQ3-9FXP] [https://web.archive.org/web/20230000000000*/https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-chatgpt-and-why-does-it-matter-heres-everything-you-need-to-know/].
 Schweber & Weiser, supra note 1.