The world’s first AI lawyer doesn’t pay: what is it and how does it work?

An AI Lawyer Ready to Tackle His First Trial – Should Lawyers Be Concerned?

In recent years, we’ve seen how artificial intelligence (AI) can do just about anything. Draw, write, make brand new inventions and even code. So it makes sense that this technology has now found its way into the legal world. In January this year, legal services firm DoNotPay made the news for having its AI attorney (of the same name) act as legal counsel in two cases of speeding tickets. The case was due to be heard in February and DoNotPay will provide guidance to the defendants on how to respond to the questions posed by the judge. Here’s a clear look at how this AI works, the services it offers, and the potential downsides of using it.

What is DoNotPay?

The company DoNotPay was founded in 2015 by Joshua Browder, a computer scientist from Stanford University. The company developed the AI ​​chatbot DoNotPay as a legal service tool designed to help people with minor legal issues such as late payment fees, fines, and speeding tickets.

Since then, it has expanded its reach and, according to its website, today can be used for a variety of legal concerns such as filing restraining orders, annulling marriages and combating discrimination in the workplace.

The company’s mission is to help its clients “fight corporations, defeat bureaucracy, and sue anyone with the click of a button.” By 2023, DoNotPay AI had been used in 250,000 cases and won 160,000 of them, with a 64% success rate.

How does DoNotPay work?

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According to Browder, “The law is almost like a combination of code and language, so it’s the perfect use case for AI.” DoNotPay’s AI can help customers dispute traffic tickets in court via their cell phones by prompting customers through headphones to when and what to say. While headphone use isn’t legal in most places, the company has found a court that qualifies it as a hearing aid.

The AI ​​was trained to stick to facts instead of manipulating information just to win. If the AI ​​cannot win the case, the company intends to pay for their tickets.

Extrajudicial cases

DoNotPay can also be used in cases that do not necessarily have to go to court. For example, it can use machine learning to ‌highlight important parts of terms of service, letting customers know how their information is being used. The AI ​​can also make automated phone calls to dispute unjustified charges or cancel subscriptions with banks or other customer service providers. If the problem escalates, you can use templates created by DoNotPay to file complaints or take legal action on small claims.

Also, it has a paid email service – DoNotPay Email – that scans your email and recommends possible actions you can take, such as: B. Unsubscribing from a service or requesting a refund, if eligible. In addition, if you move an email to the spam folder of your DoNotPay inbox, you will be automatically unsubscribed. It also scans spam emails and looks for class action lawsuits against the sender that user can join.

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To use the service, you can use your DoNotPay email address to set up an account on sites that you may later want to refund or unsubscribe from, or you can select your emails from your primary email address to your DoNotPay inbox.

The cons of using DoNotPay as a lawyer

While we think AI lawyers are hugely useful, according to reviews on business review site TrustPilot, DoNotPay is everything it stands against. Several users have reported that the app has not lived up to any of its promises to make the refund process easier. They also couldn’t get a refund when they tried to cancel their DoNotPay service – how ironic when this is one of its main services.

DoNotPay costs $36 to get a yearly subscription and there is no option to cancel mid-year. The US-based non-profit Better Business Bureau gave the site an “F” rating. This means that it is not considered a legit company, with some of the reviews even suggesting that it is a scam.

Can Lawyers Survive the AI ​​Age?

Before we delve into this question, it is important to note that DoNotPay is not the only AI used to simplify legal work. For example, US-based Ex-Parte uses AI and machine learning to predict the outcome of litigation. Similarly, legal research platform Casetext offers tools like the Case Analysis Research Assistant (CARA) to help attorneys find cases relevant to the case they’re working on.

But just because AI can make some of a lawyer’s job easier doesn’t mean it can overtake his job any time soon. AI tends to rely on pre-existing case data, but what happens when there’s no precedent for a case? It is unlikely that AI would be able to handle cases with the same expertise and empathy that lawyers normally do. That’s why prosecutors are fighting DoNotPay in court.

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On Jan. 25, Browder tweeted that DoNotPay was postponing his plans to go to court as it could land him in jail for six months. So there is no immediate danger of lawyers being replaced by AI. But just because AI isn’t making its way into the courts doesn’t mean it won’t continue to positively impact the legal field. With AI able to solve things faster and more efficiently, we can only expect that lawyers won’t be able to bill their clients for as many hours as they currently do. This is definitely not a bad thing, especially when we consider that low-income people tend not to have access to legal counsel.

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Header image courtesy of Envato