- Christopher Furlong / Getty
Lawyers can be really expensive, and for small disputes like fighting your landlord, claiming lost luggage for an airline, or a parking ticket, it can feel like a fight isn’t worth it.
Enter DoNotPay, the world’s first robot lawyer, built by young British entrepreneur Joshua Browder. DoNotPay hit headlines in early 2016 after then successfully appealing £2 million in parking tickets. The bot then expanded to help refugees, and now it’s expanding into 1,000 different areas of law in all 50 US states and across the UK.
According to MarketLine research, the US legal market alone is worth $292 billion (£227 billion).
Now Browder’s bot can help you ask for more parental leave, dispute nuisance calls, fight a fraudulent purchase on your credit card, and a host of other issues.
“I originally started DoNotPay two years ago to fight my own parking tickets and became an accidental witness to how lawyers are exploiting human misery,” said Browder. “From discrimination in Silicon Valley to the tragedy in London with an apartment building setting on fire, it seems the only people benefitting from injustice are a handful of lawyers.
“I hope that DoNotPay, by helping with these issues and many more, will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”
The updated version of DoNotPay goes live on Wednesday.
Ask the bot a question and it generates a legal response for you
DoNotPay works as a Facebook chatbot, or through the DoNotPay site. You type in a query, like “I keep getting unwanted calls.” DoNotPay gives you a few options: it can generate a cease-and-desist letter for you to send to the relevant authorities, or if you’ve done that already, it can advise you on next steps.
Here’s a demo:
Browder told Business Insider that the bot can’t take on court battles “yet”, but it can help with anything involving documents. It can fill PDFs, or generate letters, something he said is “easy to automate”. The bot is powered by IBM’s “Watson” AI technology.
That’s not to say training DoNotPay has been easy, particularly around natural language.
Browder said: “For example, knowing that when someone says ‘the signs were difficult to understand’ to the bot, it has to know to fill in the letter referring to incorrect signage regulations. This challenge was the hardest, but with Watson and a year of hard work, I am ecstatic that we made it possible.”
DoNotPay has also challenged considerably more parking tickets – it’s contested 375,000 tickets in the UK, New York, and Seattle, the equivalent of $10 million (£7.7 million).
Browder thinks DoNotPay might help prevent another tragedy like Grenfell, where at least 80 people died or went missing in a tower block fire.
“The current set of bots are designed to prevent further atrocities by making sure landlords and developers follow basic safety regulations,” he explained. “For example, to immediately fix a gas leak.”
The bot could also allow those left homeless by such accidents to claim housing more easily.
Browder’s bot has earned him national attention and, he said, it just started as a side project. He’s now entrepreneur-in-residence at venture firm Greylock, something he says he “could never have imagined.”