Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Will an App Replace Lawyers in Small Claims? Wait ... What?

The maker behind the DoNotPay chatbot that has garnered widespread attention and accolades just released an app that's going to make a lot of people happy and angry. That's because it's an app that walks an individual through their small claim filing in every county in all fifty states.

The original chatbot was designed to fight parking tickets that most people would have just paid or ignored, and boasted a rather respectable win rate. Now, the latest iteration is taking a shot at a practice area that is practically unserved, as many people avoid small claims actions because it's not convenient, and lawyers aren't clamoring to get into it either, as they're not normally allowed to appear and the amounts in controversy just aren't financially justifiable.

Disruption From the Bottom Up

Interestingly, the app, which is also named DoNotPay, is now a full-fledged venture backed tech company seeking to disrupt the legal industry. As the ABA Journal reported (linked above), many attorneys have already found faults with the app. It's also up in the air whether the app will end up running afoul of state laws pertaining to the unauthorized practice of law.

However, the app really is just using tech to follow the bureaucracy and give individuals access to the information they need and tools to fill out forms, get things filed. Ultimately, it may be the courts that end up deciding the fate of DoNotPay as users' cases start making their way through the system. Clearly, if the app is providing users with inaccurate information which in turn burdens the courts, the courts will likely take action. Additionally, because the app maker doesn't charge a fee for any services, it seems more likely that it will qualify as an informational tool rather than an unlicensed practicing robot lawyer.

Lastly, you have to admit, it seems brilliant for DoNotPay to move into small claims actions as it won't disrupt the legal industry's most vocal contingent, lawyers (because lawyers don't generally care about what happens in small claims court). It also taps into a client-base that is completely ignored.

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