Michael Cohen, previously a lawyer for Donald Trump, has admitted to submitting fictitious AI-generated court cases in a legal brief to a federal judge. The truth surfaced following an inquiry by Judge Jesse Furman into the questionable citations included in Cohen's motion seeking to reduce his probation term.
The Unveiling of AI's Impact
The legal motion in question aimed at decreasing Cohen's three-year probation period, which followed his imprisonment and guilty plea for tax evasion among other charges. Upon examination, it was determined that the cases cited did not in fact exist, leading to an investigation into their origin. Cohen's written statement revealed that he had used Google Bard to gather legal research and shared these findings with his attorney, David Schwartz. Cohen indicated he mistook the chatbot's functionality for that of an advanced search engine, and was unaware of the pitfalls of relying on AI for such important tasks. Consequently, his lawyer incorporated these non-existent citations into the motion without verification.
Emerging Consequences and Technologies
This misstep by Michael Cohen highlights a growing issue within the legal industry: the reliance on emerging technologies like AI and the risks that come with them. Legal professionals, including two New York lawyers in June, faced sanctions and fines due to similar circumstances involving AI-generated content. These incidents underscore the necessity for a critical approach to the adoption and use of AI in legal matters. Legal teams, including one representing rapper Pras Michél, are adopting AI tools for drafting arguments — a practice that requires careful consideration to ensure the legitimacy and integrity of legal documents.
As the legal environment evolves with the integration of technologies such as Google Bard and OpenAI's ChatGPT, it is incumbent upon legal professionals to understand the capabilities and limitations of these tools. For individuals such as Michael Cohen, not keeping abreast of these advancements can lead to consequential errors, as showcased in his recent court mishap. The incident serves as a cautionary tale about adopting new technologies without full comprehension of their potential repercussions.