Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Rise of the Robolawyer

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazin e/archive/2017/04/rise-of adamb03/15/17
How is the ADA job panning out adamb? We dont know each othe typicallawyer366103/16/17
"Ronald Collins, a professor at the University of Washington guyingorillasuit03/15/17
I wonder if he's ever even seen a landlord-tenant trial, muc disappearedattorney03/16/17
Yep. A lot of similar facts and patterns arise in certain t dupednontraditional03/16/17
JudgeBot3000 sounds like a solution in search of a problem. qport03/16/17
"In many instances the facts are uncontested . . . cases can flharfh03/16/17
Right. It's true that "I don't have the money" is not a defe onehell03/16/17
Just remember, professor, if you can get a bot to do the job qdllc03/16/17
You know, it WOULD be much easier to automate his job. Vide disappearedattorney03/16/17
This $275,000/yr law prawf will be canned long before the LL agentdalecooper03/16/17
It started with LegalZoom. Now, LegalZoom is somewhat o patenttrollnj03/16/17
Legalzoom worked exceptionally well for people who wouldn't thirdtierlaw03/16/17
An estate that small doesn't really need a will either, at l onehell03/16/17
I had a case where grandma died, and left the proceeds of he guyingorillasuit03/16/17
The walmart lawyer already has a presence in the United Stat typicallawyer366103/16/17
It's not just landlord-tenant court: https://www.bloombe anothernjlawyer03/16/17
adamb (Mar 15, 2017 - 6:06 pm)

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/rise-of-the-robolawyers/517794/

I feel like a cross between Robolawyer and The Terminator after a full day in arraignments.

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typicallawyer3661 (Mar 16, 2017 - 5:45 pm)

How is the ADA job panning out adamb? We dont know each other, but I followed your posts throughout your time as a crim defense solo. That has been my path. Interested to hear how the DA's office is working out.

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guyingorillasuit (Mar 15, 2017 - 9:22 pm)

"Ronald Collins, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, has outlined a system for landlord–tenant disagreements. Because in many instances the facts are uncontested—whether you paid your rent on time, whether your landlord fixed the thermostat—and the legal codes are well defined, a good number of cases can be filed, tried, and adjudicated by software. Using an app or a chatbot, each party would complete a questionnaire about the facts of the case and submit digital evidence."

You know - it figures that this guy is a law professor. Good luck with this system, Mr. Collins. Before you put the finishing touches on your system, spend a little bit of time in landlord-tenant trials. Try to find one where the facts are "uncontested".

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disappearedattorney (Mar 16, 2017 - 7:59 am)

I wonder if he's ever even seen a landlord-tenant trial, much less sat through an entire housing docket. Only a law professor could be so simultaneously arrogant and stupid.

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dupednontraditional (Mar 16, 2017 - 8:01 am)

Yep. A lot of similar facts and patterns arise in certain types of cases. Saying how things "ought" to go in the vast aggregate is very different than looking at "uncontested facts" in a particular case.

But that requires getting one's hands dirty, so...better to generate an app that eliminates people from the equation and then write a law review article about how great your app is.

I deal with construction law issues - I can't imagine a program adjudicating whether plans and specs were sufficient and/or followed, whether the owner terminated "properly", etc etc etc

Implicit in this is "ur area of law is so dumb, haha, a computer could do it." Maybe it wasn't intentional, but it certainly adds to the sheep and the goats paradigm of practice areas.

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qport (Mar 16, 2017 - 2:40 pm)

JudgeBot3000 sounds like a solution in search of a problem. Rational people with uncontested issues rarely need legal intervention anyways because they can work it out themselves. Those that do require minimal interactions with the courts (probating uncontested wills/uncontested divorces) are already solved by having the parties fill out the pro se paperwork almost every jurisdiction provides. I would suspect that easy issues like these already take up a very small percentage of legal resources right now. So the cost of an automated lawyer/judge will have to compete against the free forms already available online and the quick 10 minute blessing of a judge you would need to hire anyways.

The expensive and complicated parts of the legal system are dealing with irrational people with their wildly varying views of the facts of the case. How will JudgeBot3000 judge the credibility of the parties when they submit two questionnaires both alleging and denying the tenant timely paid his rent in cash? Let's be honest - a big part of the value of lawyers to the judicial system is being an accountable third party who can tamp down on the parties' lies and irrational desires and translate them into coherent arguments. Is a questionnaire going to explain to a party that their case is iffy at best and they should accept the settlement rather than risk trial?

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flharfh (Mar 16, 2017 - 5:57 pm)

"In many instances the facts are uncontested . . . cases can be filed, tried, and adjudicated by software"

Does not compute.

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onehell (Mar 16, 2017 - 6:23 pm)

Right. It's true that "I don't have the money" is not a defense. But habitability is both an affirmative defense and a counterclaim, so of course the facts are contested. In states that have rent-withholding rights for such claims, a lot of the tenants have figured out to say there were roaches or whatever.

Judges in my state usually just order the defendant to escrow the rent though, and since they weren't really "withholding" money they don't have, this requirement usually reveals the BS habitability claims pretty fast.

Also, even if there is no habitability claim the tenant is usually just begging for a little more time or something. Sure, a robot could just say "that's not a defense, writ of restitution to issue." But real landlord/tenant judges do what they can, try to get the parties to agree on a moveout date or whatever. There are soft skills involved even if the ultimate result is the same.

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qdllc (Mar 16, 2017 - 7:58 am)

Just remember, professor, if you can get a bot to do the job a a lawyer, it won't be long until it can do YOUR job. ;)

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disappearedattorney (Mar 16, 2017 - 8:04 am)

You know, it WOULD be much easier to automate his job. Videotape the lectures, exam questions selected from a database, exams graded by software similar to that replacing document review. And he'd probably love it because it would free him up to do more of his nonsense research about robots -- until the world wakes up and realizes that law professors' research isn't worth paying for.

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agentdalecooper (Mar 16, 2017 - 9:02 am)

This $275,000/yr law prawf will be canned long before the LL-T lawyers making $34,000/ye or the LLT commissioners making $200 a cattle call.

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patenttrollnj (Mar 16, 2017 - 11:31 am)

It started with LegalZoom.

Now, LegalZoom is somewhat obsolete, given that most courts and agencies make forms available to the general public online.

Then we have the advent of the Walmart lawyer (mini law firms in stores like Walmart), which is being tested in Canada and in the UK.

The Robo-lawyer is just the natural progression of all this.

Sure, you may hear people say that LegalZoom caused some huge problem, and then lawyers had to come in to clean-up the mess. However, I submit that 99% of the time, LegalZoom and doing it yourself works perfectly well.

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thirdtierlaw (Mar 16, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

Legalzoom worked exceptionally well for people who wouldn't have been able to afford an attorney otherwise. This is especially true for wills, many of these estates were so small that it wouldn't ever be worth it for a family to fight over a deficiency in the will. Same thing with divorces, most low-income families do not need an attorney for an uncontested divorce. Even if there was a mistake in the legal zoom documents, most judges are just going to look the other way. They'd be paying more to staff the court for the 20 minutes than could even be in dispute in the divorce.

The problems started to appear in legal zoom as the estates got bigger. Even middle-class families were exposed to substantial problems. Then those issues didn't become apparent till years later.

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onehell (Mar 16, 2017 - 6:31 pm)

An estate that small doesn't really need a will either, at least not as the main way of transferring things. Inter vivos transfers, naming insurance beneficiaries, adding pay on death designations to bank accounts, stuff like that is way more important than a will. People who leave nothing but a "legazlzoom will" are leaving their heirs with a probate hassle that could have been avoided.

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guyingorillasuit (Mar 16, 2017 - 10:17 pm)

I had a case where grandma died, and left the proceeds of her bank accounts to her grandchildren, who were minors, under a POD designation. The banks refused to hand over the money to her parents until they obtained letters of guardianship. In California, you need to file a petition to be the guardian of your own children's estate, go through an in-house inspection, and go through annual accountings of what you're doing with the money. The parents, who were a good family, had to undergo a visit from a court social worker who was used to examining crack dens, and pay $800 for the privilege. They then had to account for every stock transaction their money manager made with the kids' money. The process became so expensive that the kids' proceeds began to dwindle, and had to be placed in blocked accounts to avoid the accounting costs.

Don't leave bank accounts to kids in PODs - at least not to minors in CA.

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typicallawyer3661 (Mar 16, 2017 - 5:42 pm)

The walmart lawyer already has a presence in the United States. A couple of states have law firms located within a walmart. I would expect to see this type of business model to expand rapidly. I know one of the guys that does this, and he does really really well.

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anothernjlawyer (Mar 16, 2017 - 11:51 am)

It's not just landlord-tenant court:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/jpmorgan-marshals-an-army-of-developers-to-automate-high-finance

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