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Featured Article: Legal Bot : From Motoring Fines to Asylum Applications

In this article, we take a brief look at the many different ways that technology is increasingly being used by legal professionals and by those seeking legal services, and how advancement such as AI are making a valuable contribution.

DoNotPay

DoNotPay (https://donotpay.com/), described as “the world’s first robot lawyer”, is an app/chatbot program that helps users to draft legal letters.  The app, which dates back to London in 2015 (when its writer, Joshua Browder, was still a student in London), was originally designed to help users to get out of parking or speeding tickets. Mr Browder was inspired to develop the program after his own experiences of receiving tickets as a young driver and got information about the best way to contest tickets from his own research and multiple freedom of information requests. Mr Browder decided that using software to create documents was easier than copying and pasting the same document multiple times.

How It Works – Machine Learning

Users type their side of an argument into the app, in their own words, and DoNotPay uses a machine learning tool to provide the legal language for drafting their argument.

Emergency Housing & Refugee Legal Help

Back in August 2016, Mr Browder altered the DoNotPay app from helping drivers, to helping those in need of emergency housing. In March 2017, and based on the fact that his grandmother was a refugee from Austria during the Holocaust, Mr Browder changed the app again so that it could be used to provide refugees with legal advice and help. At the time, the app was focused on helping refugees to the UK and the US to complete their immigration applications with the legal information coming from working with the help of lawyers in both countries. DoNotPay was made available to users through the Facebook Messenger app.

Expanded

The number of legal situations now covered by DoNotPay has been expanded so that the list of legal matters that the app can now help users with includes, compensation for victims of crime, copyright protection, creating a Power of Attorney, insurance claims, cancelling any subscription, getting money back on a holiday you can’t go on, cancelling gym membership, and even connecting with an inmate in a US jail!

Success Rate

The DoNotPay app, which has 150,000 paying subscribers, has been reported to have an 80 percent overall success rate, but a 65 percent success rate for parking tickets.

Other Legal Apps

There are many other types of legal help apps, including:

Fastcase (US)  – an app to help users find and save cases of interest and details about those cases.

LegalDefence (UK) – for a monthly subscription, users get unlimited advice with any issues (from Slater and Gordon lawyers).

LawOn (UK) – a free legal advice app to help users find a good lawyer, and to answer legal questions.

LawBite (UK) – An app focused on helping small businesses to access legal advice. Businesses can choose between case-by-case fixed fee (around 50 percent of similar lawyers), or subscription packages.

Using AI and Analytics To Help With Research For Legal Cases

In the US, for example, the earliest technological help with time-consuming and complicated legal case research came in the 1970s and 1980s with PC revolution when continuously published, updated, and annotated legal databases like Westlaw and LexisNexis were introduced.

Challenges

Some of the key challenges in today’s environment for lawyers embarking on research for their legal cases are converting the raw data produced by research into something usable and finding a way to crunch is the huge increase in the amount of available information both from law on the books, and secondary sources.

Legal Search Engines

AI-based legal search programs / search engines are another way that the legal profession is using technology to help in case preparation.  For example, Westlaw Edge, a (US) search engine (and WestSearch Plus), is an example of how AI is used in a specialised search engine for legal professionals to return relevant documents, and provide responsive suggestions in answer to law questions, thereby crunching lots of legal information, saving time, and increasing the confidence of legal professionals.

Litigation Analytics

One way that lawyers can make informed decisions about which way a judge may rule on a particular type of claim and other similar facts of interest in making litigation strategy decisions is another area where technology is helping. For example, tech tools like Litigation Analytics use graphics and data visualisation to present data so that legal professionals can get a more informed insight into the likelihood of a court or judge granting a motion, or denying a motion.

Tax Appeals

In the US, the TAX-I software system is used by legal firms to analyse historical court data for tax appeal cases and can correctly predict how appeals will be determined with an estimated success rate of around 70 percent.

Disputes

Litigate (https://www.litigate.ai/) is an example of software that can create detailed chronologies related to cases, thereby saving legal professionals time, and making a positive difference to manual tasks and data analysis work.

Murder Cases

AI-based tools are now also used in research for murder trials. For example, back in December 2020, it was reported that AI was used for the first time at Old Bailey by a legal team in a trial conducted about the killing of Rikki Neave. The ‘Luminance’ technology was used to speed up the examination of evidence and search for patterns and connections that may have been unapparent or overlooked in past human inspections. AI tools like Luminance can save thousands of man-hours, spot details that could lead to solving cases and getting convictions, as well as saving tens of thousands of pounds in the costs of investigations and legal costs.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For businesses looking for cheaper legal advice solutions, apps can offer a convenient way forward. For legal professionals, AI-based tools can search and crunch large amounts of legal data, thereby saving time and money, and perhaps uncovering patterns and details that may be missed by humans. The success of apps like DoNotPay show that handy, accessible technology can be effective in helping with many different and common legal problems and can provide a cost-effective way for ordinary citizens with limited funds to get fast access to justice.  Also, AI-based solutions could prove to be valuable in tackling legal backlogs and helping the legal sector to cope with developing challenges going forward.

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