from the a-fool-for-a-lawyer dept

So, we’ve written just a few instances about DoNotPay, the supposedly AI-powered “robotic lawyer” that was initially designed that will help you contest parking tickets however then expanded to serving to (usefully) with a bunch of shopper annoyances, like cancelling accounts, acquiring owed refunds, and the like. However it’s additionally obtained some shadiness in its previous, just like the time it needed to automate sharing of streaming account credential cookies. And, whereas there have lengthy been pretty serious questions about what issues it’s best to belief it to do, a pair years in the past the corporate raised a round of venture capital from such reliable traders as (checks notes) Sam Bankman-Fried, together with a16z, and DST International, which has a little bit of an interesting history.

Anyway, since then it has ramped up a few of its makes an attempt to generate publicity by way of very questionable stunts. Earlier this month it introduced that its “AI lawyer” would represent clients in traffic court by way of an earbud, after which went even additional by promising a really publicity-stuntalicious $1 million to any lawyer who would use its AI lawyer by way of an earbud to argue in entrance of the Supreme Court docket. Leaving apart that such tech isn’t allowed within the Supreme Court docket, at one level CEO Josh Browder stated that they might successfully abuse the foundations the court docket has in place for making courts “accessible” to get the ear buds in. Which is, actually not nice.

All of those publicity stunts introduced with them some scrutiny. And, as we posted this week, Kathryn Tewson (who is among the most astute authorized commentators on the market) determined to check out a lot of its “authorized” providers. She found them extremely lacking. And perhaps that’s advantageous in low stakes conditions like parking tickets or shopper refunds and complaints. However it might do actual hurt to individuals counting on the service for bigger issues. Personally, the truth that it gave the impression to be encouraging individuals to make questionable defamation threats appeared fairly problematic to me.

On Wednesday morning, Browder introduced that the corporate was (1) ditching the plans for use in court docket and (2) stepping again from a few of these extra harrowing authorized jobs (coincidentally, the very ones that Kathryn had examined out). In fact, quite than admit that the corporate shouldn’t be doing these issues and was not certified to be doing them, Browder did the techbro equal of claiming that it was all a “distraction” with little or no utilization. Oh, and in addition, that state bars have been threatening him with potential jail time for the courtroom antics:

Good morning! Bad news: after receiving threats from State Bar prosecutors, it seems likely they will put me in jail for 6 months if I follow through with bringing a robot lawyer into a physical courtroom. DoNotPay is postponing our court case and sticking to consumer rights

I assume Browder didn’t belief his AI lawyer whispering in his AirPods to maintain him out of jail for the unauthorized apply of legislation. And if he’s unwilling to eat his personal dogfood that approach, maybe he shouldn’t offer it to different individuals.

The “distraction” declare isn’t all that plausible, actually:

I have realized that non-consumer rights legal products (e.g defamation demand letters, divorce agreements and others), which have very little usage, are a distraction.

In the event that they have been a distraction, they have been a self-created distraction, through which Browder used all this to generate publicity for his not-ready-for-prime-time “authorized” providers that individuals with actual issues may need in any other case come to depend on.

I truly do suppose that there’s some fascinating concepts within the underlying idea behind this firm. Utilizing smarter instruments to assist automate the horrible processes that enormous firms and governments put individuals by way of to get them to surrender and never train their rights is a good suggestion. However it looks like somebody ought to sit Browder down and clarify to him the worth of truly delivering a superb and helpful product over hyping up one thing that may’t do what it guarantees.

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