- Zachariah Crabill, a rookie lawyer, claims he was fired after using OpenAI’s ChatGPT to help him write a motion.
- The 29-year-old said the AI-generated information was riddled with fake lawsuits.
- Still, Crabill believes that AI has the power to make lawyers more productive.
Thinking about using OpenAI’s ChatGPT on the job? Be careful about false information — or risk getting fired.
This summer, Zachariah Crabill, a 29-year-old lawyer who previously worked at Baker Law Group, was fired after he used ChatGPT at work, he confirmed to Insider.
Crabill said he was feeling stressed about mounting deadlines and internal workplace dynamics when his bosses at the Colorado-based law firm added more work to his plate in May.
To get through it all, he turned to ChatGPT, which he had used before and trusted as an accurate research tool. He asked the chatbot to bolster a motion he had written with details from Colorado case law.
“When ChatGPT saved me hours of work, it was a tiny ray of sunlight in an otherwise abysmal situation,” Crabill said in an email to Insider. “My experience is not unique, sadly I’ve heard many attorneys say they too were ‘thrown to wolves’ early in their career.”
Once the motion was complete, the lawyer submitted it to his boss to review and, ultimately, filed it with the Colorado court — but he missed the critical step of checking the AI chatbot’s work.
His excitement quickly turned into horror when he realized ChatGPT created multiple fake lawsuit citations in the motion.
“I think all my cases cited from chatGPT are garbage … I can’t even find the cases in Lexis…” Crabill said regarding the motion, according to screenshots of his text messages reviewed by Law Week Colorado.
The errors can likely be chalked up to hallucinations, when ChatGPT generates seemingly convincing responses that are actually not grounded in fact.
He told the judge he used the AI chatbot to help strengthen the document. The judge later reported him to a statewide office.
Soon after, he was fired, The Washington Post first reported. Crabill maintained to Insider that using ChatGPT was not the reason he was fired, though he didn’t respond when asked for further clarification.
Despite losing his job, Crabill said he still believes AI has the power to make lawyers more productive. He has started his own company that offers legal services through AI.
“I still use ChatGPT in my day-to-day, much like most people use Google on the job,” Crabill said.
Baker Law Group didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment before publication.
Crabill’s ChatGPT snafu isn’t the first time lawyers used AI to the detriment of their employer, clients, or their jobs. In June, a New York law firm was fined $5,000 because one its lawyers used ChatGPT to write a court brief that referenced nonexistent cases and opinions.
Workers in other industries, too, claim they are being let go for using AI on the job.
In June, Tina Sendin, a marketing professional, claimed she got fired by a client after she used an AI writing tool to generate articles.