Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

‘Robot Lawyer’ Preparing for its First U.S. Court Case

January 10, 2023

Gizmodo reported on January 7 that AI company’s DoNotPay’s ‘Robot Lawyer” is getting ready for its first U.S. court case.

Using an earpiece, the artificial intelligence will coach a courtroom defendant on what to say to get out of the associated fines and consequences of a speeding charge.

The hearing is scheduled to take place in a U.S. courtroom sometime in February. The company wouldn’t provide any further case details to protect the defendant’s privacy.

DoNotPay is also leery of disclosing specifics because what it is doing is probably in violation of courtroom laws and protocol. In many courts around the world, phones and internet connected devices are banned. To get around restrictions on phone usage, DoNotPay’s founder Joshua Browder explained to Gizmodo that the company is relying on hearing accessibility standards in this court, which offers a loophole allowing the use of Apple AirPods. Asked if the court will be aware of the AI-assistance during the hearing, Browder responded, “Definitely not.”

Browder said the company is also working with another U.S.-based speeding ticket defendant in a case that will go to Zoom trial. In that instance, DoNotPay is weighing the use of a teleprompter vs. a synthetic voice—the latter strategy Browder described as “highly illegal.” He’s not too concerned about legal repercussions because “at the end of the day, it’s a traffic ticket.”

Browder doesn’t expect courts to come down hard on speeding defendants over AI-coaching, and the law doesn’t have explicit provisions barring AI-legal assistance. Plus, “it’s an experiment and we like to take risks,” he added.

DoNotPay plans to take responsibility for any resulting fines from both cases, and Browder said that the company is compensating the two defendants for their participation in the “experiment.” He also explained that the company has trained its AI extensively to not lie or stray beyond provided facts, thereby hopefully eliminating the possibility of a perjury charge.

DoNotPay was started in 2015 as a basic chatbot, meant to help users navigate bureaucratic and legal snafus—mostly using conversation templates. Even in its earliest incarnations, the bot was a success. In less than two years, DoNotPay successfully contested 160,000 parking tickets in New York and London. And the company claims it has resolved 2 million cases total since its founding. In 2020, with the release of ChatGPT, the company shifted its focus to AI and upped its potential.

Recently, DoNotPay has gotten attention for its corporate negotiation tactics. In a video posted to his Twitter account, Browder demonstrated knocking $10 off a monthly internet bill using the ChatGPT-powered bot. The founder also told New Scientist that he recently used the AI and a synthesized voice to reverse $16 worth of bank fees. These are the types of use cases where Browder imagines DoNotPay being most applicable for the public in the immediate future, though he told New Scientist his goal is for the AI to eventually supplant some lawyers entirely.

So it seems we might truly have “robot lawyers” after all.

HT to Dave Ries.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., PresidentSensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:   Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology