Could your (or maybe my) next lawyer be a robot? It seems far-fetched, but artificial intelligence (AI) software systems are increasingly being used by the legal community as well.
Take the DoNotPay app, for example. Its creator Joshua browder describes her as "the world's first robot lawyer". What does DoNotPay do? Simple, so to speak. Help users draft legal letters to begin with. Just tell his chatbot what the problem is (for example, appeal against a fine) and he will suggest the best legal language to use.
People can type their own version of a topic in their own words, and software with a machine learning model matches it with a legally correct way of saying it.Joshua browder, DoNotPay
DoNotPay, the story of a progenitor
The origins of the first "robot lawyer" date back to 2015, in London, when Browder was 18 years old. "I was a bad driver," he says. "I got a lot of fines for not paying parking, and I couldn't afford to pay them."
After much research Browder eventually found the best ways to dispute the tickets. "If you know the right things to say, you can save a lot of time and money." Rather than copying and pasting the same document every time, Browder thought that this looked like "the perfect job for a piece of software". So it was that he created the first version of DoNotPay, in a few weeks.
"The lawyer" grows larger.
The app has since spread to the UK and the US. Now the robot lawyer has "extended his services", and can help the user write letters dealing with a variety of issues. Insurance claims? Application for tourist visas? Complaints to companies or local authorities? Refunds for canceled holidays or gym membership cancellations? No problem. And Browder also reports that the latter two services have soared during the pandemic.
DoNotPay now claims to have 150.000 paying subscribers. As it should be, obviously the robot lawyer has his haters. Some say its legal advice it's not accurate enough. There are also some admirers, however, and some flattering results: last year won an award by the American Bar Association for increasing legal access.
How many lawsuits does it actually win?
The data provided by the company shows an overall success rate of 80%, (65% for parking complaints, because "'some people are guilty").
What do the "human colleagues" think? You might think that a real lawyer is afraid of AI invading their territory. None of this, quite the opposite: some professionals are satisfied, as the software can be used to quickly review and order large quantities of case documents. As if to say: you have not lost a job, but you have gained an assistant.
Robot lawyer, the case is yours
One such happy user is Sally Hobson, a lawyer with the London law firm The 36 Group, which deals with criminal cases. Recently he used theartificial intelligence even in a complex murder trial.
The case involved the need to quickly analyze more than 10.000 documents. The software accomplished the task four weeks faster than it would have required humans, saving £ 50.000 in the process.
In short, the artificial lawyer makes himself loved: more than 300 law firms in 55 countries around the world use him, working in 80 languages. Artificial intelligence doesn't just help lawyers sort out documentary evidence. It can now also help them prepare and structure their case and seek any relevant legal background.
Other examples of use
Laurence Lieberman, who heads the litigation digitization program at London-based law firm Taylor Wessing, uses such software, which was developed by an Israeli company called Argue.
"You upload your case summary and your memoirs, and he understands who the key players are," she says. "Finally, artificial intelligence links them together and puts together a chronology of key events."
For his part Bruce Braud, chief technology officer of DeloitteLegal, the legal arm of accounting giant Deloitte, says its software system TAXI can analyze the historical data of the courts for similar cases of tax appeal.
The company claims it can correctly predict how appeals will be determined
70% of the time. "It provides a more quantifiable way of what your probability of success is, which you can use to determine if you should proceed," adds Braude.
The future robot lawyer: how close are we?
In short, as I wrote to you, artificial intelligence can help write legal letters or assist a human lawyer. But will we ever see a time of "robot law firms", or even robot judges?
I don't think it will happen anytime soon, I'll be honest. But not everyone thinks like me.
Professor Richard susskind, who chairs the Lord Chief Justice of England's AI advisory group, says he was genuinely horrified by the idea of a computer judge in the 80s. Today he is no longer. Susskind points out that even before Covid, “Brazil had over 100 million backlogs of court cases.” There is no possibility that human judges and lawyers can dispose of such a load.
A robot lawyer might someday. Pardon. It will be able.
If an artificial intelligence system can predict very accurately (say with 95% probability) the outcome of judicial decisions, perhaps we will begin to think of treating these predictions as binding determinations, especially in countries that have incredibly large backlogs.