Could your next lawyer be a robot?
It sounds far-fetched, but the truth is that artificial intelligence (AI) software systems – computer programs that can update and “think” on their own – are being increasingly used in the legal environment.
Joshua Browder describes his DoNotPay app as “the world’s first robot lawyer.”
Help compose legal statements. You tell the chatbot what your problem is (like an appeal against a poor parking ticket) and it suggests what it thinks is the best legal language to use in this regard.
“Users can type their version of a dispute in their own words, and the software has a machine with a learning model that squares the legal way to express it,” he explains.
The 24-year-old Browder and his company are based in Silicon Valley, California, but the origins of the company date back to 2015, in London, when he was just 18 years old.
“In my late teens in Hendon, north London, I was a lousy driver,” he says. “I received a number of expensive parking tickets that, as I was still in high school, I couldn’t pay.”
After much research, Browder says he found the best way to contest those fines. “If you know what to say, you can save a lot of time and money.”
Instead of copying and pasting the same documents over and over again, he says he found it to be “the perfect job for software.” So he created the first version of DoNotPay (“NoPagues”, in Spanish) in a few weeks in 2015.
“It was really just to impress my family,” he says.
But since then, the app has spread across the UK and the US, and now it can help you write letters on matters such as insurance claims, applying for tourist visas, complaints to a company or local authority, refund of money. money from a vacation you can no longer take or unsubscribe from a gym.
Browder claims the last two uses skyrocketed during the pandemic.
Now, DoNotPay boasts 150,000 paying subscribers. And while he has his criticisms such as those who say that legal advice is not accurate enough, last year he received an award from the US Bar Association for increasing access to the legal arena.
Bowder claims to have an overall success rate of 80%, which drops to 65% for bad parking tickets because “some people are guilty.”
You may think that human lawyers fear that AI will meddle in their field. But some welcome it, as the software can be used to quickly find and sort large numbers of case documents.
One such lawyer is Sally Hobson of the London law firm The 36 Group, who works on criminal cases.
She recently used AI in a complex murder trial. The case involved having to quickly analyze more than 10,000 documents.
The software performed the task four weeks faster than it would have taken humans, saving nearly $ 70,000 in the process.
Using AI to assist attorneys “is becoming the norm and is no longer a rare thing,” says Eleanor Weaver, CEO of Luminance, which produces the software Hobson used.
More than 300 other law firms in 55 countries use it, working in 80 languages.
“You used to have a number of [document inspection] technologies that didn’t go beyond keyword searching, like typing ‘Control-F’ on your laptop,” Weaver says.
Instead, she says that today’s sophisticated software can connect associated words and phrases.
But AI isn’t just helping lawyers review documentary evidence. Now you can also help them prepare and structure their case, as well as look for any relevant legal precedent.
Laurence Lieberman, who runs the digital dispute program at the London law firm Taylor Wessing, uses such software, which has been developed by the Israeli firm Litigate.
“You upload the summary of the case and your allegations, and come in and figure out who the key figures are,” he says.
“And then the AI links them all together, and puts together a chronology of the key events and explanations of what happens on what dates.”
Meanwhile, Bruce Braude, chief technology officer at Deloitte Legal, the legal arm of accounting giant Deloitte, says the TAX-I software system can analyze historical court data for appeals of similar tax cases.
The company maintains that it can correctly predict how an appeal will be determined 70% of the time.
“It offers a more quantifiable way of your chances of success, which you can use to determine whether or not you should proceed,” says Braude.
But since AI can write legal documents or assist human lawyers, will there ever come a time when we see robot lawyers or even robot judges?
“I think, honestly, we are nowhere near that,” says Weaver.
But others like Professor Richard Susskind, who chairs the AI advisory group to the High Magistrate of England, aren’t so sure.
Susskind says that in the 1980s he was truly horrified at the idea of a computerized judge, but that he no longer thinks the same.
He indicates that even before the coronavirus, “Brazil had a backlog of more than 100 million legal cases, and there is no possibility that human judges and lawyers can shake off a burden of that size.”
So if an AI system can accurately (say with 95% probability) predict the outcome of a court ruling, he says maybe we should start thinking about handling those predictions as binding determinations, especially in countries They have so much backlog of cases.