Robo-Lawyer Fighting Homelessness, Making Humans Obsolete

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 15, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The wunderkind that created the once amusing, now frightening, chatbot-lawyer that has since overturned some 160,000 tickets from London to New York has struck again. This time, he has aimed his ambitions at tackling homelessness in Britain, according to a recent Washington Post piece about him.

This is terrific news for those who are in dire need of legal services because Josh Browder's efforts will no doubt bridge the gap between demand and supply for legal services. But it's terrible news for many lawyers who have traditionally benefitted from hard-set prices in legal services.

Introducing DoNotPay

Last week, Browder's DoNotPay project was given a fresh update that allows the chatbot "lawyer" to draft legal letters to local housing councils entreating them for homeless housing assistance.

It basically works like this: the chatbot asks a series of simple questions relevant to the individual who will imminently become homeless or is already homeless and uses that information to create a letter. The information is dropped into the basic form, formatted for grammar, and presto! A legal letter all nice and clean.

The technique is essentially what many lawyers basically do for their clients who bring to them what may be deemed run-of-the-mill fact patterns. The difference is that Browder's program is intended (so far) to help the homeless. But it's only a matter of time before the basic technology is utilized by those looking to take advantage of cheaper legal alternatives.

The End Is Nigh?

For lawyers who make their bread and butter on "mill" types of business (think demand letters) this is very bad news, particularly if word of this technology reaches a critical mass. DoNotPay's and other programs that are sure to follow have the ability to spit out a letter (albeit perhaps an inelegant one) in a matter of minutes -- maybe even seconds.

Even if a lawyer agrees to take a mere $75 to draft a letter, there will come a point when the business of drafting basic letters will simply no longer be economically viable for solos and small companies. Maybe we're there already.

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