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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Robot lawyer writes letters to challenge parking tickets

Trying to get out of paying a traffic ticket is a headache. Using a lawyer can end up costing more than the ticket itself. The cost of using a lawyer to fight a ticket can be from $400 to $900 depending on the case,.

This is where Joshua Browder, a 19-year-old student, enters the scene. Browder created a robot lawyer in the UK that has already since being launched in 2015 appealed $3 million in parking tickets. The programmer's robot costs nothing to use. It answers questions about parking-ticket appeals in the UK.
The robot is user friendly. When you sign in, a chat screen appears. The robot then asks questions about your case such as who was driving and whether the parking signs were easy to read. When it is finished with the questions it automatically creates an appeal letter. If the answers to the questions are confusing to the robot it will ask the person to contact Browder directly and gives directions how to do so. The site is still being developed but by this Spring a full version is expected to be ready. Browder is a freshman at Stanford University in California.
Laws are publicly available, so that robots are able to automate some simple tasks that human lawyers, or their assistants, have been doing for decades. Browder's robot lawyer is not the first. Acadmx has a bot that creates legal briefs that are perfectly formatted. Lex Machina can do data mining of judge's records and make predictions on what a given judge will do.Browder claims that his type of robot could also deal with delayed or canceled flights or payment-protection insurance claims.
The robot's programming is based upon a conversation algorithm, using keywords, pronouns, and word order to understand that user's issue. The robot has the ability to learn from its interaction with users. The bot is programmed according to UK law but Browder feels that program could be adapted so that it can be used eventually to make compensation claims for delayed flights to the US from the UK such as from London to New York.
The robot lawyers are not likely to replace human lawyers but in the matter of issues such as simple appeals they may soon replace them and save people a great deal of money. Lawyers will lose some money but they will also be spared some rather routine and uninteresting work.
Browder left London last September to begin working on an Economics and Computer Science degree at Stanford. Originally he created a website called "DoNotPay" designed to help people appeal unfair parking tickets. Browder began to get many emails from those using the site. The result was that eventually Browder was receiving thousands of emails each month that he simply did not have the time to answer. His robot lawyer was the solution to the problem. The bot does assume that you do have some legal grounds for your case. If you have no good grounds for appeal, the bot wont help.
It would be illegal for the robot to give subjective advice related to the law but as it is configured, it just answers questions in order to come up with a coherent appeal based on the law that you mail to the court. In the UK the robot has been used by 151,000 people and its success rate has been 47 percent. This is a better rate than many lawyers who specialize in appealing tickets. Browder expects to use the bot in New York in the coming spring to deal with delayed and canceled flights.


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