Hiring a legal specialist to fight your corner can be an expensive undertaking.
Fees can start from around £300 to £500 an hour or more depending on who you hire.
But there are now legaltech firms that have made it cheaper to get legal representation using artificial intelligence software, which they claim can ‘think’ for itself and collate all the information together to help you fight your case.
Robo-lawyers are making access to legal advice more affordable
Richard Susskind, who has a PhD in AI law from Oxford and is the author of 10 books, including Tomorrow’s Lawyers, says: ‘AI systems are taking on more and more legal tasks that in the past we thought could only be undertaken by human lawyers.
‘Examples are systems that can draft documents; search through large volumes of documents and identify the most relevant; predict the outcome of court decisions; guide users through complex procedures (e.g., court procedures); and that can offer answers to legal questions.’
In the UK, law firms mostly use AI to construct legal letters or make access to legal information easier and more affordable.
Legaltech firms may also use it to bring their own costs down as the software does the time-consuming admin work.
Here are three examples of robot legal helpers that you can make use of that will save you money.
The consumer law firm using AI
Consumer law firm Bott and Co has used AI to improve efficiency and deliver legal services in areas of consumer law that most firms would not be able to operate profitably.
They say it provides ‘access to justice’ for many people who would otherwise be un-represented.
Paul Baylis, software and innovation manager at Bott & Co helped to create the AI software
In 2019, Bott and Co teamed up with The University of Manchester to launch an AI project as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
It also works with KTP associate Dr. Minh-Quoc Nghiem from Vietnam who has helped the team to embed what they claim is a state-of-the-art platform for legal text mining and predictive modelling.
The project began with a focus on the firm’s flight delay compensation department, but it then found the techniques and approaches could be applied to other departments within the business such as personal injury, cycling accident claims and mis-sold motor finance claims.
Paul Baylis, software and innovation manager at Bott and Co, says: ‘We have been able to embed functionality into our existing case management system that greatly improves email and document management for our claim handlers.’
The company, which was founded by David Bott, Paul Hinchliffe and Garry Froggatt in 2001, operates on a no-win no fee basis and is based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. It says its fee starts from 20 per cent and rises for the more complex cases.
The young entrepreneur’s DoNotPay site
DoNotPay was a chatbot launched by young entrepreneur Joshua Browder to help people fight unfair parking tickets.
He launched a free robot lawyer and his story was revealed by This is Money six years ago.
Since then, the company has gone from strength-to-strength. It’s now used by millions in the UK and America.
He said back then: ‘I realised that the best way to help people would be to create a computer program that could talk to users, generate appeals and answer questions like a human.
‘I decided to create the UK’s first robot lawyer for consumers.’
DoNotPay started out by being able to determine the validity of a parking penalty by asking a set of specific questions.
Now, however, it can help with things like flight compensation, divorce settlement agreements, fighting email spam, defamation demand letters, getting refunds and more.
Help with employmenty disputes
To address furlough and employment disputes, Monaco Solicitors has launched Monaco Academy – a free legaltech tool created by AI specialists from Amazon and Sumsung to seek justice for workers whose rights have been infringed during the pandemic.
The tool, which is the brainchild of Alex Monaco who is also the founder of Monaco Solicitors, offers free representation (on a no win, no fee basis) to UK employees who cannot afford legal fees, which can cost as much as £500 per hour.
Prior to the creation of the tool, Monaco said his firm had to turn away 85 per cent of people who made inquiries due to the low potential value of the cases versus the high cost of the lawyers.
‘The no win fee tends to vary from 10-35 per cent of any settlement amount paid by the employer for the wrongdoing.
It’s based on the strength and value of the case. A very strong and valuable case would attract a low per cent fee, but a weaker or less valuable case would attract a higher per cent,’ explains Monaco.
Will bots replace lawyers?
Over the years, machines have replaced jobs that initially only humans could do. Now legaltech firms are getting them to do the basics.
Susskind says: ‘AI-based systems offer the promise of quicker, cheaper, more convenient service – people can go online and draft their own documents (e.g., wills for individuals, employment contracts for small businesses) – and can get help people understand their legal rights and duties.
‘Many lawyers will say this is not possible. They are wrong. AI/law experts have been working on these systems since the late 70s.
It is still early days, but the existing technologies are already there to help with many everyday legal problems – improving ‘access to justice’ and making the law affordable.’
While the technology has been revolutionary in reducing costs, Susskind believes it will take some time before robots make the job of a lawyer completely obsolete.
He says: ‘Lawyers will be needed for many years yet for complex legal work, and where judgment and creativity are needed.
‘But much everyday work does not require judgment and creativity. What is needed is easier navigation through large bodies of rules and regulations.
‘Overall, my view is that most of the predictions being made about the short-term impact of AI and law hugely overstate its likely effects. However, most of the long-term predictions hugely understate its impact.
‘Will AI radically change the world of law in the next few years? Definitely not. By 2030? Almost certainly.’
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