AI Robot Lawyer Is Disbarred By Its Creator Before Its First Court Case

An empty courtroom.
The scales of justice are not yet ready to be weighed and measured by robot lawyers powered by artificial intelligence. Or at least human lawyers are not ready to welcome AI into the fold. Under the threat of jail time, Joshua Browder, founder and CEO of DoNotPay, has decided not to let the "world's first robot lawyer" help a defendant argue a traffic infraction through real-time communication in court after all.

As we stated earlier this month, the use of AI in the courtroom was shaping up to be both a monumental and controversial moment for the technology. After carefully curating what cases would be a good fit for this trial run (pun intended), Browder whittled a list of 300 potential candidates down to two, both involving a traffic violation.

His plan was to have the defendant wear a Bluetooth earpiece so DoNotPay's 'robot lawyer' could listen to the proceedings and provide advice. The AI tool is based on OpenAI's ChatGPT technology. As we've seen, it can form coherent articles, but it's also been known to bungle the facts.

Courts don't typically allow this kind of technology to be used, though Browder believed he found a legal loophole. Some judges permit the use of hearing aids, including ones with Bluetooth technology, and Browder saw that as a green light to go ahead with his plan. He also admitted that, while technically legal as far as he was concerned, it was "not in the spirit of the law."

This riled up some lawyers who subsequently threatened Browder with jail time. After taking some time to research the situation and digest it all (with human counsel, no doubt), Browder made the decision to disbar DoNotPay's robot lawyer, at least for the time being.

DoNotPay CEO tweeting about the decision to postpone using AI in court.

"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," Browder says.

In a follow-up tweet, Browder said he came to the realization that cases not involving consumer rights and that "have very little usage, are a distraction." He also points to other uses where DoNotPay's AI tool has been successful, such as lowering medical bills, cancelling subscriptions, and disputing credit reports.

Browder had previously said the whole point was to make legal representation more accessible to the general public. Most people are not going to hire a lawyer over a speeding ticket, as the cost of legal counsel could easily offset (and then some) having the fine tossed out.

"What we are trying to do is automate consumer rights. New technologies typically fall into the hands of big companies first, and our goal is put it in hands of the people first," Browder said at the time.

For now, that doesn't fall under the purview of traffic violations, or testing the limits of what may or may not be legal when it comes to using AI in the courtroom. Skynet was not available for comment.