When to Use a Legal App (and When to Hire a Real Lawyer)

We are definitely living in the future. Smartphones and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have given the average citizen access to resources that were once only available to people with money. Need a personal chef? Sign up to get gourmet kits delivered to your door. Need a driver? There are more apps to share than you can think of. And now the lawyers.

Having a lawyer – in the sense that you have a law firm up front that you can call at any time – is definitely a rich man’s move. Most of us can’t afford a lawyer sitting around waiting for our call, and frankly, most of us don’t need one. This means that when we really need legal advice, it’s the stressful process of finding a lawyer (and finding the money needed to hire one). But now we have a growing category of legal apps — tools like DoNotPay , a “robotic process automation (RPA)” app — that help people do things like file lawsuits, challenge parking tickets, and regain access to social media accounts. networks. For a relatively small monthly subscription, you can walk around with a lawyer in your pocket. But do these apps really work?

How AI is being used in the legal profession

It should be noted that AI is used in the legal profession – and this is very important. Law firms around the world have already incorporated artificial intelligence and machine learning into their processes because these technologies are specifically designed to handle the incredible volume of text generated by legal processes such as discovery. AI tools are being used to automatically scan contracts, find relevant documents, even simulate trials and predict outcomes based on judge files.

The reason AI works so well for lawyers is because AI and machine learning are excellent at processing data quickly and accurately, and so many laws deal with stacks of documents and hard drives full of data. When it comes to navigating through legal codes and courtrooms, AI can be effective because law is, in fact, the most confusing and poorly built algorithm in the world. Each step in a legal process triggers a finite number of possible other steps, so AI can speed up the process of determining the next steps in a legal action.

How useful and effective is the “pocket lawyer”?

While the amazing power of AI in data processing makes it extremely useful for trained, experienced lawyers, does that mean the power of the “lawyer in your pocket” app? The answer is mixed.

DoNotPay, for example, works by breaking down the law into automated tasks that can be combined as needed . This makes the application more flexible than, say, Trust & Will , which only creates (you guessed it) trusts and wills, because it can add a bit of legal work as your lawsuit or case gets processed; DoNotPay claims to provide hundreds of services, including providing fake virtual credit cards to sign up for free trials and canceling subscriptions at companies that make it incredibly difficult.

But despite this flexibility, all of these legal applications are limited and your success with them will depend on the complexity of your legal needs. Fighting a parking ticket? It’s a fairly simple legal algorithm with a very limited number of steps and possible complexities, so something like DoNotPay handles it pretty effectively: the nationwide parking ticket challenge success rate is only 40%, but DoNotPay claims it’s about 70% successful. cases. time .

Similarly, when using an app to make a will, you’ll be fine if your needs are relatively simple. If you have a difficult financial situation or unusual plans for your property, sooner or later you will face severe limitations of application algorithms. This is reflected in DoNotPay reviews, which are not always good, as well as a low F rating in the Better Business Bureau .

Another consideration is how far your legal needs will take you, because litigation still requires people to be present. Could you use a legal app to represent yourself? In fact, it is possible that the judge will forbid you from doing this , since using the application can be seen as evidence of your incompetence for self-defense.

bottom line? A legal app on your smartphone can replace human lawyers for simple and straightforward legal actions that do not require litigation or other lengthy court hearings. But if your legal needs are even a hint of complexity, you’re much better off shelling out for a real lawyer, or at least using a legal app that offers real lawyers as part of its services, like Rocket Lawyer .

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