Although DoNotPay is being labeled as the first “robot lawyer” litigation app, local attorneys agree that artificial intelligence (AI) has already seeped into the nooks and crannies of virtually every single aspect of the law.
“There’s very little that hasn’t already been touched or replaced by some kind of robot,” said Attorney Nicole Clark, founder of Trellis Law. “Many of the day-to-day tasks of an attorney are now augmented—if not accomplished—by AI-backed technologies.”
DoNotPay, also known as a robot lawyer, is among several new AI programs that are making it easier to lawyer up without an attorney.
“This technology pushes the profession to redefine what it means to practice the law,” Clark told OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “Given the extent to which we are aided by machines, the source of decision-making gets cloudier and cloudier.
The apps’ ease of use can potentially assist plaintiffs trapped in the so-called ‘justice gap.’
“The high cost of retaining an attorney pushes many individuals to ‘go it alone’ when confronted with a legal issue,” Clark added. “This robot lawyer is one way to level the playing field, giving individuals the same tools with which landlords, corporations, and government entities have equipped themselves.”
Some 5 billion individuals globally have unmet justice needs, according to the World Justice Project. DoNotPay was awarded Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access in 2020 by the American Bar Association.
Pro se traffic ticket litigants using DoNotPay need only connect to the Bluetooth on their mobile device to receive help from the app in devising arguments in court.
“This DoNotPay robot seems more like a gimmick than a real threat to our legal system but anything that can help with the more efficient delivery of legal services is important to further explore,” said Robert Tyson, strategic managing partner with Tyson & Mendes law firm.
But at least one attorney foresees accountability issues for plaintiffs who try to use the DoNotPay app in court and then lose their case.
Rex Parris, founding partner with Parris Law Firm, expects the trail of accountability to stop with arbitration agreements and waivers.
“I’m sure there are both arbitration provisions and waivers when you buy the app so I don’t see how you could win,” he said. “You’re not even going to get to the arbitration stage because you’re not going to get past the waivers.”
Other AI legal programs for sale on the open market include Jasper and ChatGPT, which are writing assistants popular among lawyers. They create text based on prompts and predictive texting.
“ChatGPT wrote the first two pages of an opening brief that I would use and it was better than I could,” Parris told OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “The current use in that regard got me started writing the rest of the opening.”
The litigation AI programs are so effective that they have the potential to replace attorneys, especially those who refuse to heed the signs of the time.
“Embrace technology,” Tyson advises. “You don’t have to do what we are doing, which is creating AI for your clients, but seek out technological advancements all the time and incorporate them into your practice. “
Tyson further suggests working to improve client-attorney relations.
“If your clients end up preferring to spend time with a robot as opposed to you, you might be in trouble,” he added.
Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.