June 6, 2023

The Birth, Failure and Reflection of Humanity’s First “AI Lawyer”

AI Lawyer’s first attempt to enter the courtroom was forced to press the “pause button”.

The so-called “AI Lawyer” is the latest version developed by DoNotPaychatbot. According to the original plan, the defendant appeared in court wearing a headset equipped with an AI robot. The latter listened to the live court scene in real time, and sent the voice of the reply to the defendant at the same time, telling him how to respond to the judge.After the company officially announced the plan in early January, peer doubts and legal risk warnings followed. Under tremendous pressure, they made the decision to give up.

DoNotPay is an application AI An APP that provides legal services to ordinary people through technology. Founded by Joshua Browder in 2015, the company has raised nearly $28 million. The last round of financing was in 2021, led by A16Z, raising a total of 10 million US dollars, and the company’s valuation reached 210 million US dollars.

Initially, the app provided only the function of automatically writing appeals after being issued a parking ticket. Over the past few years, it has expanded its service scenarios to various matters such as personal taxation, credit score maintenance, and subscription refunds.

The advancement of the language model, the update of ChatGPT, and also to DoNotpay’schatbotBrings more upgrades.It can now act as a proxy for the consumer, going to the dialog to negotiate problems with the network package and fight for a refund. Although there are not many refunds like $10 and $15, they save time and worry and fight for the rights of consumers. although”AI The “lawyer” is kept out of the courtroom, but in the wider scene of life, it will help ordinary people more and more.

this time AI The attempt of lawyers to enter the courtroom also means that technology has developed to the point where it begins to conflict with the original legal system.In the legal field, AI has been around for some time as a tool for lawyers, and more recently even judges AIGC Optimize judgment submissions.

but when AI Starting to provide legal services for ordinary people and trying to enter the primary court hearing seems to be facing more resistance, and even caused discussions on the compliance of AI legal services. Today’s court rules and regulatory system are no longer sufficient to cope with the rapid technological progress.

01 Zhang Yang’s experiment, suspended “AIlawyer”

From the official announcement to the withdrawal, the first human “AI Lawyers in Court Plan” aborted after just 20 days.

On January 4, Joshua Browder revealed to the media AI The lawyer will appear in court to defend the news. The original plan was for an “AI lawyer” hidden in a pair of headphones to give real-time help to the defendant through the handset at a California district court hearing on February 22.


DoNotPay founder Joshua Browder|Source: the stanford daily

The accused was charged with speeding, “AI “Lawyer” will be hidden in a pair of Bluetooth headsets, and the real-time recordings of the court will be sent to the algorithm. AI will judge how to deal with the judge based on the live recordings, whisper in the defendant’s ears, and guide in real time.

It is reported that DoNotPay has reached an agreement with the defendant, and the defendant will only answer from “AI Attorney” received advice, and then repeated the content to an uninformed judge. If doing so results in increased fines, it will be paid by the company. The purpose of this is to test the effectiveness of AI lawyers. According to Browder, the technology behind the AI ​​that responds immediately in court is OpenAI’s large language model GPT-3.

News quickly spread in the media, and Joshua Browder took advantage of the occasion to launch a new open call on Twitter:The company is willing to pay any lawyer or individual $1 million to wear AirPods, repeatAIWhat the lawyer says to defend the case.However, this behavior was questioned by netizens. According to relevant laws, the Supreme Court of the United States prohibits the bringing and use of any electronic devices during court sessions.

However, in the district courts of the United States, some states are more relaxed about whether electronic products can be brought to court. For example, some district courts allow defendants to use hearing aids with Bluetooth functions. DoNotPay is equivalent to hitting a sideline. “It’s technically in line with the rules, but I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the rules,” Browder said.

Another concern is:AI Listening to the court situation in real time through headphones, even if the data is destroyed immediately after analysis and processing, constitutes an act of recording, which is prohibited in any court.

Unsurprisingly, the plan has met with fierce opposition from the Bar Association. Browder said that he has received threats from several state bar associations one after another. “One party even said that it is possible to transfer the case to the local prosecutor’s office and prosecute and jail.” Another state bar association official pointed out that in In some states, practicing law without authorization is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in prison.

Facing the risk of breaking the law and pressure from the Bar Association, Browder decided to back down, announcing a moratorium on January 26. AI Plans for lawyers to appear in court.

02 From complaint ticket to “Internet Robin Hood”

When you open the DoNotPay company’s webpage, you will see a clear-cut slogan:The world’s first lawyer robot.The intro at the bottom reads: Crack down on business, crack down on bureaucracy, sue anyone with the push of a button.


DoNotPay is simply a legal servicechatbot. It can help you better negotiate with regulations and agreements in daily situations, and protect your rights. For example, filing taxes with the IRS, appealing a ticket, writing a will, unsubscribing from a service, etc. In these specific cases, the chatbot will ask you some questions to get basic information, and then assist you in completing the form or writing the paperwork.

Browder describes: people can use their own words to express ideas, withmachine learningThe software that models it, matches it to the legally correct representation.

In 2020, the company also won a Brown Award from the Legal Services Committee of the American Bar Association in recognition of its advancement and innovation in popularizing legal services through technological means.

Although the company has been established for 7 years, the founder Browder is only 26 years old this year. It all originated from a series of parking tickets issued when he became a novice driver in his sophomore year. According to local regulations, he can write a letter to defend himself. In some cases, such as damaged signage and insufficient photographic evidence, the ticket may be revoked.

Browder found that such templated writing is easy to automate, so DoNotPay, which automatically writes ticket appeals, was born.So far, DoNotPay has helped users draft 250,000 ticket appeals.

Later, DoNotPay continued to expand its functions to handle various things. The company said,chatbotHas represented people in over 2 million customer service disputes, court actions against agencies and organizations, including the cancellation of 300,000 subscription services.

Browder also announces the latest features on Twitter from time to time, such as the opening of ChatGPT API Since then, DoNotPay has opened up a new feature that can read terms, lease contracts, and then flag non-standard content-that is, details that may be pitfalls.

After being equipped with the ability of ChatGPT, DoNotPay can continue to upgrade. In a demonstration video, the user only needs to issue an order to “reduce the Internet fee, but maintain the existing package”, and the rest can be handed over to the robot. The DoNotPay robot talks directly with the customer service robot of the communication operator. It cited service issues with the carrier and threatened legal action, and eventually, a customer service bot offered a $10 monthly deduction from the internet bill. In other words, the robo-agent helped the user save $120 a year.

Also because of this product positioning for consumer rights protection, the BBC previously described DoNotPay as “Internet Robin Hood”.


DoNotPay replaces human users and negotiates network fees with customer service robots|Source: Joshua Browder

03 AI Prospects for China: A Blank Space for Legal Services

From automatically writing ticket appeals, negotiating package fees, to putting “AI “Assistant” is brought to the court to assist the court defense, which is actually an extension of the legal service scene provided by technology. This step of DoNotPay’s attempt is also a natural derivative of its service traffic ticket scene.

If you choose to appeal after receiving a speeding ticket, you may need to go through a court hearing in addition to a written appeal. Trials like speeding are generally not too complicated, and there is no need to hire a professional lawyer, but ordinary people do not have the legal knowledge necessary for court defense.

Despite opposition from some bar associations, some professionals say the idea has potential.Henshon, chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, takes this view. In his view, in low-risk situations,AI Advisers are able to provide legal aid where defendants may not otherwise have legal representation at trial. “There are a lot of legal wrongs that go uncorrected because it’s not worth the lawyers’ involvement,” Henshon said.

AI It has found its way into the legal industry as a tool, primarily for quickly reviewing large volumes of documents. Sally Hobson, a barrister at a London law firm, used AI software in a complex murder case to help quickly analyze more than 10,000 documents. Software was four weeks faster than manpower, saving £50,000.

This is the same as “AI Unlike the nature of services provided by lawyers to ordinary people, AI acts as a tool for professionals. When AI provides legal aid to ordinary people, on the one hand, it fills in the gaps in the existing legal services, and on the other hand, it involves issues such as professional qualifications and how to supervise. According to Leah Wilson, executive director of the California State Bar,“By 2023, we will see an influx of well-funded, unregulated service providers into the low-cost legal representation market, raising again the question of whether and how to regulate these services.”

so flamboyant”AI Lawyers enter the court” experiment, Browder also hopes to promote policy and regulatory discussions. He said that there are still many parts that need to be resolved, and it also involves communication with the government. “There are many problems that need to be resolved. Technology is not the most difficult part, and compliance is still in progress.” He believes that,Court rules are outdated in the face of technological progress.

More broadly, Browder argues,AI The tools and rules that determine the balance of power between individuals and governments and corporations are being shaken.He sees AI as a way of empowering ordinary individuals, creating a level playing field for people in disputes over fines and fees.

But in “AI After the “Lawyer Appears in Court” plan was put on hold, he said that from the perspective of the company’s product strategy, it may be an inappropriate strategy to extend its functions to the court scene. In the future, it will focus on consumer rights protection. “No lawyer is going to get up for a $500 refund. That’s where we should really be concerned.” At present, it seems that the tiny rights protection scenarios are the advantages of AI services over human lawyers.

Ewen Eagle

I am the founder of Urbantechstory, a Technology based blog. where you find all kinds of trending technology, gaming news, and much more.

View all posts by Ewen Eagle →

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