Robo-Lawyer: How Artificial Intelligence Could Change the Legal System?

Artificial intelligence had a great finish of 2022, and is entering the ongoing year with great expectations. As a matter of fact, AI went from a niche subject to the mainstream, and is expected to blow our minds even more in the upcoming months.
One of the first mindblows is the AI attorney, which will represent a defendant in court next month. You read that right.

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ai attorney

Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

How does AI attorney work?   

The most common way of using AI for legal advice is through chatbots, the most popular being DoNotPay. It works by using AI templates for various issues, usually helping in settling customer service disputes. 

The DoNotPay creation raised around $27.7 million. The list of investors is quite impressive, and includes individual names such as Dylan Field (CEO Figma), Scott Belsky (CPO Adobe), Balaji Srinivasan (ex-CTO Coinbase), and even The Chainsmokers. Moreover, it’s backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Index Ventures, and more. 

One very intriguing way of using this solution is the example taking place next month – in court. Namely, a defendant will be using an AI-powered lawyer that will be listening to court arguments through a smartphone and formulating legal responses in real-time for the defendant, through headphones. Incredible, right? 

But let’s answer our key question – is using artificial intelligence in courtrooms legal? 

Surprisingly enough, in some cases it’s completely legal, whereas most courtrooms don’t allow using hearing aids for this purpose. 

For DoNotPay to be introduced in courtrooms, one precondition has to be met – all parties need to agree on being recorded. Of the 300 cases for which they applied, only two of them agreed to participate in this experiment. 

Now, what will happen if the ‘robot lawyer’ loses the case? 

According to DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder, the company will cover any fines. The details about the client are unknown, but what we do know is that it regards a speeding ticket. Meaning that, shall they lose the case, DoNotPay will bear the cost of the speeding ticket, which is objectively a small financial risk. 

But if they win, oh my. We’re gonna hear about it for a long time. 

Not only that, but they will be able to eventually push courts to loosen their rules and accept AI as a legal counsel. 

When should an AI attorney be used?   

One of the key reasons why AI attorney was created is to provide legal services to those who can’t afford it, but also to avoid additional fees. 

As a matter of fact, we could use legal advice much more often than we ask for it, even for daily issues, such as consumer rights, tenant’s rights, and more. AI attorneys can assist us whenever we need a second opinion, compared to actual legal consultants, to whom we only turn when things get serious. 

In other words, the DoNotPay solution aims to automate consumer rights. 

How is DoNotPay different from ChatGPT?
I’m sure you’ve heard all about the different uses of ChatGPT, from marketing to education. Now, you may wonder how does it differ from DoNotPay?
Well, for starters, the key difference lies in the information that these AI solutions have been fed. ChatGPT has its many advantages, but it isn’t precisely fed with law knowledge; DoNotPay, on the other side, literally went to law school.
That makes it more suitable for legal advice, which is both correct and has real significance, rather than the well-sounding but generic responses you may get from ChatGPT on this matter.

Moreover, AI attorneys can be used to prevent the escalation of things. It can help you react in a timely manner, rather than waiting until the last minute. 

According to the creators of this solution, many cases could actually be won by individuals, but that’s usually not the case because of high legal fees, the lack of time and resources to fight bureaucracy. The mentioned cases include applying wrong fees, persistent robocalling, or even fighting parking tickets. 

Finally, the best part, according to the DoNotPay CEO, is that this solution will be available for $36 per year to anyone who could benefit from it. That way, it will actually fall in the hands of people first, rather than in the hands of big companies

What services does it offer?   

One astonishing stat is that DoNotPay offers help in over 200 different kinds of legal help. 

The following services are the reason why it earned the title of the World’s first robot lawyer: 

  • Airline Flight Compensation 
  • Appeal Speeding/Parking Tickets 
  • Breach of Contract 
  • Cancel Any Service or Subscription 
  • Car Registration Renewal 
  • Copyright Protection 
  • Defamation Demand Letters 
  • Discover and Apply for Scholarships 
  • Fight Email Spam 
  • File a Complaint Against Any Company 

And many more. 

For any of these topics, you can read the ‘Most recent posts’ on any possible issue within a certain category. It will help you narrow your problem and navigate your way to a solution.

Now, we were interested in the quality of this help and wanted to test it out first-hand. 

We randomly chose the subject of ‘Landlord Protection’ to see what happens if, for example, your landlord is giving you a headache by not getting rid of the mold in the apartment you’re renting. 

  1. DoNotPay will first let you know under which laws your landlord is obliged to make sure their rental units are meeting key criteria related to no moisture or mold. 
  2. Then, it’ll explain your rights to you, such as getting the repairs done in your apartment or receiving compensation. 
  3. It will guide you step-by-step on how to ask your landlord for repairs. The advice may include gathering documents/evidence, composing a written explanation, submitting the letter (and saving a copy for yourself), and allowing adequate time for your landlord to solve the matter. 
  4. It also predicts the possibility of your landlord not responding and provides you with contact numbers in case that happens, such as Legal Council, Environmental Health, or Ombudsman. 
  5. In case you want to sue your landlord, and avoid the court, DoNotPay has got you covered and will direct you to a different solution within their ‘Landlord Protection’ product. This includes answering several questions so that the chatbot can have all the necessary information to conduct a demand letter. 
  6. DoNotPay can send a letter on your behalf, if you do not want to send it yourself. 
  7. Finally, it can help you start a small claims court process if nothing else helps. 

That said, we’re pretty content with the provided help. It doesn’t seem generic or false, and it actually gives you advice that you couldn’t come up with yourself. 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.