Legal Software

SA Lawyer Fined for ChatGPT Use: Importance of Legal Technology Solutions

A recent case argued in the Johannesburg Regional Court has highlighted the risks of using ChatGPT in the legal sphere and the importance of reliable legal technology solutions.

Before we deal with the specifics of this, it’s important to note that ChatGPT isn’t in itself a legal technology solution. The way it was used refers to what we call “technology-assisted legal research”.

The case revolved around a plaintiff suing her body corporate for defamation. Her legal counsel admitted to using ChatGPT for legal research, which then generated a fake citation. The Magistrate in the matter, Magistrate Arvin Chaitram, noticed that the “case” citation was fake and slapped the legal representative with a punitive cost order, warning:

“When it comes to legal research, the efficiency of modern technology still needs to be infused with a dose of good old-fashioned independent reading.

The embarrassment associated with this incident is probably sufficient punishment for the plaintiff’s attorneys.”

The Importance of Legal Technology Solutions

Although this is the first time that something like this has happened in a South African setting, it is not the first time where lawyers were caught using ChatGPT for false legal information.

A federal judge in the US fined a law firm $5000 for using ChatGPT to conduct legal research, which also generated false or made-up information.

This highlights the importance of using reliable legal software when handling your legal matters.

Legal professionals must understand that AI systems are only as reliable as the data they are trained on. Without robust legal software specifically designed for legal tasks, the potential for errors, oversights, and ethical violations increases substantially.

As explained by our director, Raphael Segal:

“The time for talking about AI is over – now is the time for doing.  

The only choice is where to educate yourself about it – when to use it, how to use it, and where to use it.  Using AI is not a choice. But it is your duty to fact-check, and using reliable legal software can greatly assist you to prevent an embarrassing and expensive mistake.”

At Microsoft Inspire, Lawrance Reddy spoke about the importance of ensuring that professionals understand the basics of how Large Language Models work and fit together. Lawrence made the point that by not doing so, you run the risk of having your business data compromised and your facts being stories, after all – that is what generative AI is built to do.

Take Robin, our AI bot, it was designed with the legal profession in mind and offers a curated selection of South African legal content, ensuring that the information is accurate and up to date.

By embracing reliable legal technology solutions, lawyers can enhance accuracy, efficiency, and compliance in their practice. If you want to chat about generative AI, speak to one of our experts today. You can do so by emailing us at in**@le***********.com, calling us on +27 11 719 2000 or scheduling time with us here