Do you want a robot attorney to represent you?

A robot holding a judge's gavel

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Is your lawyer going to be an AI robot? Although it sounds absurd, artificial intelligence (AI), which is a set of computer programs that update themselves and can “think” for themselves, is increasingly used in the legal sector.

Joshua Browder calls DoNotPay “the first robotic lawyer in the world” with his app DoNotPay

The chatbot helps you draft legal letters. It will help you draft legal letters by asking what problem you are facing, like appealing against parking tickets.

He says that people can write their arguments using their own words and that software with machine learning models matches them with legal correct ways to say it.

Although the 24-year-old is based in Silicon Valley, California with his company, Mr Browder’s roots go back to London, where he was 18 years old, in 2015.

Joshua Browder

Joshua Browder

He says, “As an older teenager in Hendon (north London), I was a terrible driver.” “I was in secondary school and couldn’t afford to pay a lot of parking tickets.

Browder claims he discovered the most effective ways to challenge tickets after doing a lot of research. You can save time and money by knowing the best words to use.

He decided to not copy and paste each document, but instead he said it was “the perfect job” for software. He created DoNotPay’s first version in just a few weeks, in 2015 “really to impress my family”.

The app spread quickly in the UK and USA. It can be used to help with insurance claims and complaints, as well as letters to local authorities and businesses. You can also use it for letters to cancel your gym membership or get back money for holidays you cannot take. According to Mr Browder, these two applications saw a surge during the pandemic.

DoNotPay claims 150,000 subscribers. While it isn’t without its faults (some claiming its legal advice doesn’t match up), DoNotPay claims to have 150,000 paying subscribers. It has its critics, with some saying that it is not accurate enough in legal advice. But last year it received an American Bar Association award for improving access to justice.

Browder boasts an overall success rate of 80%, with a 65% parking ticket success rate. “Some people are guilty.”

A statue of the Scales of Justice stands above the Old Bailey on January 19, 2021 in London, England

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It is easy to believe that AI would be a problem for human lawyers. Some are happy with the ease of using software to sort through large numbers of cases documents.

Sally Hobson is a London-based barrister with The 36 Group who works in criminal cases. In a complicated murder case, she used AI. This case required the ability to analyse over 10,000 documents in a short time.

Software completed the task in four weeks, which was faster than human beings. This saved PS50,000.

Eleanor Weaver is chief executive at Luminance which produces the software that Ms Hobson uses, and says AI in legal assistance has “become the norm”

It is used by more than 300 law firms across 55 countries, and in 80 languages.

Eleanor Weaver

Eleanor Weaver

She says that “historically there were a lot [document-checking] technology options that weren’t better than keywords searches like pressing Control-F on your computer.” She says today’s advanced software is capable of connecting related words and phrases.

AI does more than just help lawyers to sort through documentation. AI can help lawyers organize and plan their cases, as well as search for relevant precedents.

Laurence Lieberman is the head of London’s Taylor Wessing’s digitizing disputes program. He uses this software that was developed by Litigate in Israel.

He says, “You can upload your case summary along with your pleadings. The AI will then go in to work out the key players.” The AI then links them all together and creates a timeline of key events. It also explains what happened on which dates.

A man being arrested in Brazil

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Bruce Braude is the chief technology officer at Deloitte Legal. This legal arm of accounting giant Deloitte claims that their TAXI software can analyze historical court records for tax appeals similar to his.

According to the firm, it is able to predict appeal decisions 70% of all times. Braude adds that it provides an easier way to calculate your chances of success and can be used by you to decide if you should continue.

While AI may be able to assist lawyers in writing legal correspondences or by assisting them with their work, AI will not allow for the creation of robotic solicitors or barristers or robot judges.

Ms. Weaver says, “I believe, in real reality, that we are nowhere near that.”

Others, such as Prof Richard Susskind who heads the advisory group for AI on the Lord Chief Justice, aren’t quite so certain.

Prof Richard Susskind

Richard Susskind

Professor Susskind claims that in 1980s, he was horrified at the notion of computer judges. But now he’s not.

He states that Brazil had an unfinished court caseload that was more than 100,000,000 in size before the coronavirus.

If an AI system is able to predict court outcomes with 95% accuracy, then he suggests that we may start considering treating such predictions as binding decisions in countries where there are large backlogs.

Publiated at Sun, 15 August 2021 23.49:21 +0000

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