‘Robot lawyer’ faces lawsuit for practicing without license

(NewsNation) — The world’s first “robot lawyer” is facing a new lawsuit for practicing without a license.

The app called “DoNotPay” uses artificial intelligence (AI) and claims it can “fight corporations, beat bureaucracy and sue anyone at the press of a button.”

Joshua Browder, a 2018 Thiel fellow, invented DoNotPay. He said he started the company by accident.

The Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC stated in a proposed class action that DoNotPay “is not actually a robot, a lawyer, nor a law firm.”

Edelson filed the case on behalf of California resident Jonathan Faridian, who said he used DoNotPay to draft demand letters, a small claims court filing and LLC operating agreements and got “substandard and poorly done” results.

Browder responded to the claims via Twitter, saying they have “no merit” and that Faridian has “had dozens of successful consumer rights cases with DoNotPay.”

Browder also said Edelson founder Jay Edelson inspired him “to start DoNotPay.”

“Bad news! Jay Edelson, America’s richest class action lawyer, is suing my startup @DoNotPay in California. Mr Edelson, who has made billions suing companies, is attacking us for “unauthorized practice of law” and seeking a court order ending any A.I. product,” Browder tweeted.

Edelson responded in an email that Browder and DoNotPay are trying to “distract from their misconduct in any way possible” and that “the problem for them is that DoNotPay has scammed so many people.”

The promise of generative artificial intelligence tools for applications such as legal work has gained steam with the rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other AI “chatbots” in recent months. DoNotPay generated buzz earlier this year when Browder said on Twitter the company had plans to use an AI chatbot to advise a defendant in traffic court.

According to Browder, DoNotPay works by asking what the legal problem is, finding a legal loophole and then inserting that loophole into a legal letter. Browder had plans to take his product to a courtroom in February to help someone fighting a speeding ticket.

But ahead of the case, Browder said he discussed the concept on Twitter and on shows including “On Balance With Leland Vittert.” He says this prompted threats of prosecution, and he added that he received letters in opposition to the app from several state bar associations.

The lawsuit said DoNotPay violated California’s unfair competition law by engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. It seeks a court order declaring the company’s conduct unlawful and seeking unspecified damages.

The case is Faridian v. DoNotPay Inc, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Francisco, No. CGC-23-604987.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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