Skip to Main Content

ChatGPT and Generative AI Legal Research Guide

Introduction to ChatGPT

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI that uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses to text-based questions and requests (called prompts). The ChatGPT system is a neural network that has been trained on a massive dataset of text from the internet, including:

  • Books
  • Articles
  • Web pages
  • Legal materials such as cases, statutes, and regulations

How Does ChatGPT (aka ChatGPT-3.5) Work?

  • ChatGPT is a prediction machine that understands natural language prompts and generates human-like responses by predicting the next word in a sentence based on its training data.
  • When asked a question, it tries to guess what a human would say in response.
  • ChatGPT-3.5 is based on the GPT-3 model, with a training data cutoff date of April 2023, meaning it has no knowledge of events after that date.
  • Unlike its successor models and other AI systems, ChatGPT-3.5 cannot search the internet for additional or current information.


  • Released on March 14, 2023, ChatGPT-4 is a step up from its predecessor and available only to premium customers at $20 a month.
  • It provides more accurate and precise information than ChatGPT-3.5, reducing the likelihood of generating fictitious facts, cases, and statutes.
  • Its legal analysis capabilities have significantly improved, as demonstrated by its performance on the LSAT and Uniform Bar Exam.
  • ChatGPT-4 utilizes the Browse with Bing beta technology to search the internet for more current information, but concerns remain about the reliability and trustworthiness of this functionality.

Impressive Legal Analysis

  • ChatGPT's impressive performance on the bar exam demonstrates its proficiency in legal analysis, largely due to the fact that citations to primary materials are not generally required.
  • However, the purpose of legal research is to find relevant primary law, and answering legal questions requires accurate citation and explanation of primary legal materials.
  • ChatGPT often cites and explains the law of a jurisdiction on a specific issue correctly but tends to fabricate case citations while providing accurate statute information.