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ChatGPT for Legal Research

Client Alert

ChatGPT is a powerful chatbot that can produce text in natural language for a variety of purposes, like writing code, creating lyrics, or responding to inquiries. It is built on a sizable language model created by OpenAI and trained on a significant amount of internet text data. In the legal industry, the AI tool ChatGPT with over 100 million users and 6.1 million browser searches a month, has become one of the most talked about technologies of this generation. As ChatGPT comprehends and employs legal vocabulary, it can deliver pertinent results for legal research questions and has worked its way into our everyday business and legal world.

Yet, how trustworthy and beneficial is ChatGPT for legal research? What are the benefits and drawbacks of using this tool in the legal system. Here, we will examine some of the advantages and disadvantages in comparison to more conventional research methods.

As an illustration of how ChatGPT might go awry, we will look at the instance of New York-based attorney Steven A. Schwartz, who used ChatGPT to conduct research for a legal brief, and in turn produced embarrassing results. Additionally, we provide a checklist for conducting legal research using ChatGPT.

Pros of ChatGPT for Legal Research

  • Increased Efficiency: ChatGPT can help lawyers and legal professionals save time and energy when conducting legal research. ChatGPT can quickly generate text that summarizes the relevant laws, cases, and arguments for a given topic or question. ChatGPT can also provide citations and links to the original sources for further reference. For example, if a lawyer wants to research the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in New York, they can simply ask ChatGPT to provide them with the relevant information, instead of spending hours browsing through books or databases.
  • Creative and Novel Insights for Legal Research: ChatGPT can generate text in different styles and tones, such as formal, informal, persuasive, or humorous. ChatGPT can also write in the style of a specific author, such as a famous lawyer or judge. This can encourage lawyers and legal professionals to explore different perspectives within their research.
  • Broad Coverage: ChatGPT can enhance access to legal services. It can provide basic legal guidance and information to individuals and businesses who need legal help but cannot afford or access a lawyer. By supplying them with basic legal information, ChatGPT can also help lawyers and other legal professionals who work in underserved areas or with marginalized communities. For instance, rather than engaging a lawyer or conducting online research, a person might ask ChatGPT to clarify their rights as a tenant or employee in lay terms.

Cons of ChatGPT for Legal Research

  • Risk of Incomplete or Outdated Information: ChatGPT is not a substitute for human judgment and expertise. It is a statistical model that generates text based on probabilities and patterns but lacks any comprehensive knowledge of the law or the framework of legal research. ChatGPT may generate findings that are incorrect, lacking, or deceptive and do not accurately reflect the current state of the law or the particulars of the case. For example, Steven A. Schwartz used ChatGPT to research a personal injury case involving an airline passenger who was hit by a metal serving cart during a flight. He was unaware that ChatGPT had fabricated six cases that had never been decided by any court and cited them in his brief as precedents.
  • Ethical and Confidentiality Concerns: ChatGPT may pose ethical and legal risks for lawyers and legal professionals who use it for legal research by potentially producing writing that violates professional responsibilities for lawyers in competency or confidentiality. Additionally, ChatGPT may produce language that violates the intellectual property rights of others, for example, by plagiarizing or rephrasing protected content without giving due credit. For instance, the judge penalized Steven A. Schwartz $5,000 for included non-existent citations in his brief. He was also accused of plagiarism by another lawyer who claimed that he had copied parts of his brief from an article he had written.
  • Lack of Professional Judgment: Utilizing ChatGPT may lead to unexpected social and political implications for lawyers and the public. It may create biases or prejudices in the legal research by favoring certain sources, arguments, or outcomes over others. ChatGPT may also influence or manipulate the opinions or decisions of lawyers, judges, clients, or the public by using persuasive or deceptive language. For instance, ChatGPT may generate text that supports a certain political agenda or ideology, or that appeals to the emotions or biases of the reader, rather than the facts or the law.

Comparison with Traditional Forms of Research

Although ChatGPT is a cutting-edge instrument with numerous benefits for legal research, it also has several drawbacks and issues that need to be resolved. How does it stack up against traditional research methods like consulting books, databases, or human experts?

Traditional forms of research have their own strengths and weaknesses as well. For example:

  • Books are authoritative and comprehensive sources of legal information, but they may be outdated, expensive, or hard to access. For example, a lawyer may need to consult a book that is not available in their library or online, or that has not been updated to reflect the latest changes in the law.
  • Online legal databases provide an immense amount of legal information. They are reliable and easily accessible. However, lawyers and legal scholars spend a considerable amount of time when conducting research using online databases.  
  • Human experts are knowledgeable and experienced sources of legal information, but they may be biased, unavailable, or costly. For example, a lawyer may need to consult another lawyer who specializes in a certain area of law, but they may have a conflict of interest, a busy schedule, or a high fee.

Therefore, there is no single best method for conducting legal research. The best method depends on the purpose, scope, and complexity of the research question or problem.


The best way to use ChatGPT for legal research is to use it as a supplement, not a replacement, for traditional forms of research. ChatGPT can provide useful and interesting results for legal research, but it should always be verified and validated by other sources and methods. ChatGPT should also be used responsibly and ethically, in accordance with the rules and standards of the legal profession and society. While the role of ChatGPT in the legal profession is limited, the future advancements in AI will likely lead to an increase in its use and reliability.

ChatGPT Checklist:

[ ] Define your research question or problem clearly and precisely.

[ ] Choose a suitable prompt and tone for ChatGPT to generate text for your research.

[ ] Review and evaluate the results generated by ChatGPT for accuracy, relevance, and completeness.

[ ] Verify and validate the results generated by ChatGPT by cross-checking with other sources and methods of research.

[ ] Cite and attribute the sources used by ChatGPT properly and ethically.

[ ] Use ChatGPT as a supplement, not a replacement, for traditional forms of research.

[ ] Use ChatGPT responsibly and ethically, in accordance with the rules and standards of the legal profession and society.

ChatGPT Implications

We used ChatGPT for the following prompts, and here are the results:

Prompt: "Develop a list of interrogatory questions for the defendant in a routine medical malpractice case in Idaho."

    1. Please state your full name, current address, and occupation.
    2. Provide a detailed description of your medical qualifications, including your education, training, certifications, and any specialized areas of practice.
    3. Describe your professional relationship with the plaintiff and outline any medical treatments or procedures you provided to the plaintiff.
    4. Please provide a chronological account of all interactions, consultations, or visits you had with the plaintiff, including dates, times, and locations.
    5. Were you aware of the plaintiff's medical history, including any pre-existing conditions or relevant allergies? If yes, please provide details.
    6. Describe the steps you took to diagnose the plaintiff's condition and the reasons for your diagnosis.
    7. What treatment options did you discuss with the plaintiff? Were the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives adequately explained?
    8. Provide a detailed description of the medical procedures or treatments you performed on the plaintiff, including dates, locations, and any other relevant details.
    9. Did you consult with other medical professionals or specialists regarding the plaintiff's condition? If so, please provide their names and describe the nature of the consultation.
    10. Were any medical tests, lab results, or imaging studies conducted in relation to the plaintiff's case? If yes, please provide copies of the results and describe their significance.
    11. Were there any complications or unexpected events during the plaintiff's treatment? If so, please describe the events, your response, and any corrective measures taken.
    12. Did you obtain the plaintiff's informed consent before performing any medical procedures or treatments? If yes, please explain how the risks, benefits, and alternatives were communicated.
    13. Were there any instances where you deviated from the standard of care or guidelines for similar medical cases? If so, please explain the reasons for the deviation.
    14. Provide a list of all medications prescribed to the plaintiff, including dosages, frequencies, and durations.
    15. Were you aware of any known side effects or risks associated with the prescribed medications? If yes, please describe how you communicated these risks to the plaintiff.
    16. Were you aware of any medical guidelines, protocols, or standards of care relevant to the plaintiff's condition? If so, describe how you adhered to or deviated from them.
    17. Describe your post-treatment follow-up procedures, including any recommendations or referrals made to the plaintiff for continued care.
    18. Did you maintain complete and accurate medical records of the plaintiff's case? If yes, please provide copies of all relevant records and documents.
    19. Have you ever been subject to any disciplinary actions, lawsuits, or malpractice claims? If yes, please provide details.
    20. Is there any other information or documentation you believe is relevant to this case?

Prompt: "Draft a will for Bob Smith in New York leaving all of his property to his son Bill Smith."

I, Bob Smith, residing at [Address], City of [City], State of New York, hereby declare this to be my Last Will and Testament, revoking all previous wills or codicils made by me.


I appoint my son, Bill Smith, to be the Executor of this Will. If for any reason Bill Smith is unable or unwilling to act as Executor, I appoint [Alternate Executor's Name] as the alternate Executor.


I hereby bequeath and devise all my property, both real and personal, and wherever located, to my son, Bill Smith. This includes but is not limited to real estate, bank accounts, investments, vehicles, and any other assets owned by me at the time of my death.


I express my wishes that my funeral and burial arrangements be carried out in a manner that is respectful and in accordance with the customs and beliefs of my family. I leave the responsibility of making these arrangements to my Executor, who shall consult with my family members for guidance.


In the event that my son, Bill Smith, predeceases me, or if he fails to survive me for any reason, I hereby devise the remainder of my estate to [Alternate Beneficiary's Name]. If the designated alternate beneficiary is unable to receive the inheritance, the Executor shall distribute my estate to such other beneficiaries as directed by law.


As all my children are of legal age, there is no need for the appointment of a guardian.


I declare that this Will revokes any and all prior wills, codicils, or testamentary dispositions made by me.


If any provision of this Will is deemed invalid or unenforceable by a court of law, it shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision contained herein.


This Will shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of New York.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have signed my name to this Last Will and Testament on this ______ day of ______, 20.

Bob Smith

We, the undersigned witnesses, at the request of Bob Smith, do hereby sign our names as witnesses in his presence and in the presence of each other.

Witness 1: Name: ________________________ Address: ______________________ Signature: _____________________

Witness 2: Name: ________________________ Address: ______________________ Signature: _____________________

Prompt: "Create a lease agreement for renting an apartment. The lessor is John Doe Properties and the lessee is Jane Smith. The rent is $1,000 per month and the lease is for one year."


This Lease Agreement (the "Agreement") is entered into between John Doe Properties (hereinafter referred to as the "Lessor") and Jane Smith (hereinafter referred to as the "Lessee") on this __________ day of __________, 20.


The Lessor hereby agrees to lease the following described property (the "Apartment") to the Lessee: Address: ______________________ City: _______________ State: _______ ZIP: __________


The lease term shall commence on ______________, 20, and shall continue for a period of one (1) year, ending on ______________, 20.


The Lessee agrees to pay a monthly rent of $1,000 (one thousand dollars) to the Lessor for the duration of this lease. The rent shall be due on the ________ day of each month and shall be paid in the following manner: _____________________________________________________________.


The Lessee shall provide a security deposit in the amount of $___________ prior to the commencement of the lease term. This deposit shall be held by the Lessor as security for any damages to the Apartment or unpaid rent. The security deposit shall be returned to the Lessee within ________ days after the termination of the lease, less any deductions for damages or unpaid rent.


The Lessee shall be responsible for the payment of all utilities and services required for the Apartment, including but not limited to electricity, water, gas, and internet/cable.


The Lessor shall be responsible for maintaining the Apartment in a habitable condition, including necessary repairs due to normal wear and tear. However, the Lessee shall promptly notify the Lessor of any damages or repairs required during the lease term.


The Lessee shall use the Apartment solely for residential purposes and shall not engage in any illegal or nuisance activities on the premises. The Lessee shall not sublease or assign the Apartment without the prior written consent of the Lessor.


If the Lessee fails to pay the rent or breaches any other provisions of this Agreement, the Lessor shall have the right to terminate the lease and pursue any legal remedies available.


This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of ________________.


This Agreement contains the entire understanding between the Lessor and the Lessee and supersedes any prior agreements or understandings, whether written or oral.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Lessor and the Lessee have executed this Lease Agreement as of the date first above written.

LESSOR: John Doe Properties

By: ___________________________ Name: _________________________ Title: __________________________

LESSEE: Jane Smith

By: ___________________________ Name: _________________________ Date: _________________________

Prompt: "Explain the concept of claim preclusion?"

Claim preclusion, also known as res judicata, is a legal principle that prevents the same parties from relitigating a claim that has already been finally adjudicated. It is based on the fundamental notion that there should be finality and certainty in legal proceedings.

Under claim preclusion, once a court has issued a final judgment on a particular claim, that claim is considered "precluded" or "barred" from being raised again in a subsequent lawsuit between the same parties, or those in privity with them, if certain conditions are met. These conditions typically include:

    1. Identity of Parties: The parties involved in the subsequent lawsuit must be the same as, or in privity with, the parties in the previous lawsuit.
    2. Final Judgment: There must have been a final judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction in the previous lawsuit. A final judgment generally means that the court has made a definitive ruling on the merits of the claim, disposing of it either through a trial verdict, dismissal, or summary judgment.
    3. Same Cause of Action: The subsequent lawsuit must involve the same cause of action or claim that was already litigated in the previous lawsuit. A cause of action refers to the legal theory or basis upon which a claim is brought.
    4. Same Claim: The claim being raised in the subsequent lawsuit must be identical or substantially similar to the claim that was decided in the previous lawsuit. This means that the new claim must arise from the same factual transaction or set of circumstances as the original claim.

Claim preclusion operates to prevent parties from relitigating the same issues or claims repeatedly, promoting judicial efficiency, avoiding inconsistent outcomes, and respecting the finality of judgments. It encourages parties to present all relevant claims and legal arguments in a single lawsuit, rather than fragmenting them across multiple proceedings.

It is important to note that claim preclusion does not prevent parties from bringing new claims or causes of action that are distinct from those already adjudicated. It only bars relitigation of the same claim or cause of action that has been finally decided.

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