A “Lawyer Bot” Has Helped 160,000 People Void Their Parking Tickets

June 30, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Parking ticket
Photo credit: Charleston's TheDigitel/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

About $4 million in fines have been saved. 

With the rising anxiety about robots taking over human jobs, now even lawyers may have a reason to be on the edge of their seats.

A 19-year-old Stanford University student, Joshua Browder, impressively taught himself how to code and ended up creating what he claims is the “world’s first robot lawyer,” according to The Guardian.

Over the past 21 months, the artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer chatbot has successfully helped void 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York. The best part? The bot has done it all for free.

Remarkably, DoNotPay chatbot has taken on a quarter of a million parking ticket cases, and the AI lawyer has won 64 percent of them. To quantify the impact, the chatbot has saved about $4 million in fines that no longer have to be paid.

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“I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society,” Browder said in an interview with Venture Beat. “These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”

Browder was reportedly inspired to create the bot after receiving 30 parking tickets at the age of 18. Appealing ticket fines is a relatively formulaic process, he says, which makes it a suitable task for an AI robot to handle.

First, the bot asks a client a few initial questions to see whether the appeal is possible, and then it guides the user through the ins and outs of the legal appeal process. Plus, the service is available completely free of charge, so people have access to legal help without having to pay expensive lawyer fees.

In addition to the London and New York lawyer chatbots, Browder plans to extend the service to Seattle next. And his vision doesn’t stop at providing a free service for fighting parking tickets — he wants to expand the virtual lawyer’s abilities to also help patients with legal rights regarding an HIV diagnosis, travelers who want compensation for flight delays, and even refugees applying for asylum.

“I feel like there’s a gold mine of opportunities because so many services and information could be automated using AI, and bots are a perfect way to do that,” Browder said. “It’s disappointing at the moment that it’s mainly used for commerce transactions by ordering flowers and pizzas.”

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