AI and Legal Fees

A federal judge harshly criticized a law firm’s attempt to use ChatGPT to help estimate its legal fees in a case against New York City. The Cuddy Law Firm, which specializes in special education cases, cited ChatGPT’s feedback as a “cross-check” to support its request for over $113,000 in fees after successfully representing a student with disabilities.

However, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer awarded only around $53,000 and issued a blistering rebuke of the firm’s reliance on ChatGPT. He stated that treating ChatGPT’s conclusions as a useful gauge for reasonable legal billing rates was “misbegotten from the start.” The judge warned the firm against referencing ChatGPT in future fee requests unless there is a “paradigm shift” in the tool’s reliability.

The decision highlights the legal industry’s ongoing struggles with integrating AI technologies like ChatGPT responsibly. Judges have had to clarify rules around using AI, as other lawyers have faced discipline for including fictitious information generated by AI in court filings.