DoNotPay says it is abandoning plans to bring artificial intelligence to the courtroom.
DoNotPay, which bills itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer,” announced last month that it would take on two speeding ticket cases in court in February, with its artificial intelligence instructing the defendants on how to respond to their assigned judges. The startup stated that it would pay any fines and that the defendants would be compensated for their participation in the experiment.
However, CEO and founder Joshua Browder announced late last month that those plans would be “postponed” due to “threats from State Bar prosecutors.”
“Ultimately, it appeared to be a distraction from using chatGPT technology to help with consumer rights issues,” Browder wrote in an email. “We have decided to focus on consumer rights products, where we are very successful. Courtroom products are too contentious among lawyers, and they make us look bad.”
How does DoNotPay operate?
DoNotPay, which has been in operation since 2015, has released templates to assist people in appealing parking tickets or requesting airline refunds. It also claimed to have developed a bot that can negotiate bills with companies such as Comcast by utilising OpenAI’s ChatGPT, or Generative Pretrained Transformer technology.
DoNotPay announced in January that it intended to bring AI to court by having defendants wear an earpiece with Bluetooth connectivity in the courtroom, most likely an AirPod or hearing device, with the AI whispering instructions on what to say in the defendants’ ears.
Browder said he hoped the experiment would loosen courtroom rules prohibiting the use of AI in court, which he believes harms low-income individuals because, according to the American Bar Association, roughly 80% cannot afford legal representation.
What is the future of AI in the courtroom?
Some legal experts have expressed concerns about DoNotPay’s plans to bring AI to the courtroom, claiming that it could be considered “unauthorised practise of law” or violate courtroom audio recording rules. Others have questioned the effectiveness of DoNotPay’s tools.
According to Gary Marchant, regents professor of law and director of Arizona State University’s Center for Law, Science, and Innovation, determining where to draw the line on AI’s use in the legal field is difficult.
“The whole issue of where an automated system crosses a line is really debatable,” he said.
According to Aziz Huq, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, lawyers are already using AI in “several ways,” such as finding relevant evidence and documents in discovery.
While AI responses aren’t always perfect, experts predict that the legal field will increasingly rely on this technology in the future.
“I’ve used ChatGPT, and it frequently correctly summarises the law. But it does make mistakes,” said Northwestern University law professor John McGinnis. “And it’s not surprising. It will improve. But, for the time being, I believe entering the courtroom was a step too far.”
McGinnis added that while AI may displace certain jobs, its expansion is good news for consumers looking to save money on legal fees.
“They won’t be able to charge as much because the lawyer will be working less,” he explained. “That’s fantastic for people with modest needs. As a result, I see this as a net positive for consumers in the long run. Perhaps not for the inexperienced lawyer.”