News — 01 January 2018
Free online robot offers legal help

Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, but a new chatbot called ‘DoNotPay’ allows you to access the same advice for free. A chatbot is a computer program which is designed to simulate human communication. This one was created by Stanford University (US) student Joshua Browder, as a way for people to appeal parking tickets, using what he describes as “the world’s first robot lawyer”. Since its launch in 2015, DoNotPay has successfully challenged over 160,000 tickets. Up to now it has only been available in parts of the UK and in New York City, but it will soon be active in many more places.

DoNotPay is also expanding its coverage into a wider variety of legal issues including consumer and workplace rights. Mr Browder says that, “The expansion into consumer rights includes everything from fighting your landlord to getting a refund when something isn’t delivered on time. I think businesses should be forced to treat consumers better, and consumer rights bots can help to accomplish that.”

Users communicate with the DoNotPay robot for free through an online chat where they type in the kind of advice they need. For example they could say: ‘I’m arguing with my landlord.’ The virtual lawyer then offers options of how it can help, such as: ‘Send a warning,’ ‘Notify Authorities’ or ‘Dispute the Eviction Notice.’ DoNotPay can also connect users to free legal aid agencies for more serious cases.

Mr Browder summarised his goals this way: “I think the world is such an unfair place. Credit card companies charge the poor more for the same thing that others get for less. Employers don’t respect their employees’ rights. In the past the only way to correct this type of unfairness was to pay a lawyer a lot of money. DoNotPay gives people a free way to stand up for their rights.”

 

 

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