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There’s an old saying that goes, “You’re entitled to all the justice you can afford.”

Although it’s usually said with levity as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the expense of hiring lawyers, sadly, legal services are far too expensive for many to afford, especially those who often need them the most. It’s far easier to rip off, take advantage of, or otherwise marginalize people who can’t afford to fight back. 

But could AI be changing that? Could AI do to law what Uber did to taxis?  What Amazon did to bookstores?

Contrary to its depiction in too many dystopian films, AI has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of people. And legal services are no exception. Much of the hefty price tag for legal services is due to high hourly rates, and many of those hours are spent manually doing discovery and researching case law. AI technologies such as IBM’s Watson can do in seconds what would take a human multiple, expensive hours. You can simply ask the bot a question, and it can search millions of pages of previous case law and predicates, using natural language processing to give you the most comprehensively-researched legal advice possible.

And, as it turns out, if you’re one of the 143 million Americans whose personal information was recently compromised in the Equifax hack, there’s a bot that can help you sue for damages.

DoNotPay is an online chatbot that made a name for itself by helping drivers protest over 300,000 tickets in London, Seattle and New York. The service is free to use online, and has saved drivers about $3 million worth of tickets. DoNotPay also offers information and assistance for refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and is branching out into assisting people in disputing unexplained bank charges and landlord/tenant disputes. And now, the chatbot will help you sue Equifax in small claims court for the amount that’s allowed by law in your home states, or up to $25,000.

Of course, the chatbot cannot do everything for you; it’s not like you simply type in your information and wait for your check to arrive. The bot provides all the necessary forms and gets all your ducks in a row for you, but from there, the regular legal procedures still apply. You still must physically show up to court in person and argue your case.

Still, many new AI technologies such as DoNotPay are gaining steam, and legal firms are taking notice. DoNotPay creator Joshua Browder, a student at Stanford, proclaims that his vision for the chatbot is to “level the playing field so anyone can have the same legal access under the law… If one day someone can have the same standard of legal representation as the richest in society then I think that’s a really good aim.”

 

To explore how search-driven analytics and natural language processing (NLP) are critical methods of empowering intelligence among a non-technical group of users, check out this comprehensive research report by Aberdeen Vice President and Principal Analyst Michael Lock.

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