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The Reality of Robot Lawyers

Can a robot really fight your parking ticket and win? Yes. A free chat bot created by 18-year old Joshua Browder has done so 375,000 times in London, New York City, and Seattle alone.

Through a free site, DoNotPay, consumers can have lawyerly letters published on their behalf in less than 30 seconds. These can be used to fight speeding tickets, ask for an extended maternity leave, or request compensation for a delayed flight. And, very soon, these bot lawyers will be able to do much, much more. Browder, along with a team of volunteer, is releasing over 1,000 new services that the bot will be able to offer this summer in all 50 states.

There are two main components to this process: finding the right document and filling it in. The SMS-style chat bot asks a handful of questions to point you to the direction of the document you need and then prompts you for relevant information to complete it.

Browder’s goal is to give greater access to legal services to those who would typically not be able to afford it, but what does this do to the legal profession? This is a clear example of how artificial intelligence assistance will empower clients to do more legal work themselves. This may well have the benefit of increasing access to the justice system. But, beware of unintended consequences. We may see busier courts as more people use this free alternative to challenge minor infractions and file complaints without the assistance of a lawyer.

There will be more bots like this in the future, each with more robust and complete services than the last. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid a mechanical approach to our work, simply inputting data and moving on to the next client, if we do not wish to be replaced. We must remember to push ourselves to the top of the legal services pyramid by focusing on building long-term, high trust client relationships. And, how best to do this: develop a consistent approach for exceeding client expectations. Much more to come on that topic in future posts…

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