Firm Scolded for ChatGPT Fees Bid


  • New York City law firm, representing an special-needs claim in NYC School, submits astronomical fee bid generated by ChatGPT-4
  • District Judge slashes the $100,000 fee in half after no evidence presented
  • Hearings were based upon inability to provide adequate public education for special needs student

Amid the scurrying race for law firms to introduce AI into operations, one New York City law firm has been scolded for ‘misbegotten’ ChatGPT use in a bid for fees. A Manhattan federal judge disparaged a law firm specializing in education Thursday for referencing ChatGPT calculations to enforce its attorney fee request of more than $100,000, calling the bid “utterly and unusually unimpressive”.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer slashed the fees of Cuddy Law Firm PLLC to $53,050.13 plus interest for work completed in a case for a parent on behalf of a child against the New York City Department of Education involving two administrative hearings.

Cuddy Law Firm PLLC originally requested $113,484.62 plus interest after securing judgements against the department, claiming that the artificial intelligence program had enforced its quote. “As the firm should have appreciated, treating ChatGPT’s conclusion as a useful gauge of the reasonable billing rate for the work of a lawyer with a particular background carrying out a bespoke assignment for a client in a niche practice area was misbegotten at the jump,” Judge Engelmayer wrote Thursday.

Tom Lindeman, and attorney for the department stated, “the firm’s use of ChatGPT to support its aggressive fee request was deemed inappropriate and, as the court determined, the city’s prior offer to resolve fees was fair and reasonable.”

The case was brought on by a parent with a child with hyperactivity disorder, language disorder, a developmental coordination disorder and acute stress disorder, according to Thursday’s decision. The parent claimed that the department failed to provide adequate free public education for two consecutive school years, that included failing numerous evaluations and appropriate education services implementing special education teacher support services as mandated by the child’s individualized education program from January 2018.

The second case brought on by the parent alleged that the department again neglected free appropriate public education for school years from 2019 through 2022. The department failed to develop independent education programs for their child in accordance to psychological evaluations, leading to enroll the child at preparatory school, according to the decision.

The firm sought compensation for its work in both hearings and resulting fee litigation. While the team does not rely solely on ChatGPT-4, it did “cross-check”, Judge Engelmayer said. The judge added that the firm also failed to provide any information it inputted into ChatGPT for it to rely on to confirm its calculations, among other omissions.

Within the first hearing the firm conceded its failure to provide a free appropriate public education for the child and did not oppose the parent’s request for relief, submit a closing brief or appeal the decision, leading to less work for the attorney’s. In the second, the hearing was brief and consisted of two sessions lasting between two and three hours with the department presenting only one witness and cross-examining only two of the four witnesses present by the parent.


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