I Asked ChatGPT to Write a Post for the JLA Beat Blog

Liz Srulevich

A middle-aged New York lawyer named Steven Schwartz first learned about ChatGPT through his children.[1] 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.[2]

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.”[3] Schwartz then incorporated the citations into his argument and filed the resulting brief in federal district court.[4] Shortly after, Avianca’s lawyers discovered that the cases didn’t exist—that ChatGPT had completely made them up.[5]

Schwartz, his supervisor, and their firm were slapped with a $5,000 fine.[6] Schwartz said “he felt embarrassed, humiliated and deeply remorseful.”[7]

I empathize with Mr. Schwartz.

When ChatGPT first debuted on November 30th, 2022,[8] 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.[9] 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.


[1] 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].

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] 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/].

[9] Schweber & Weiser, supra note 1.