A Robot Lawyer Will Give Free Legal Advice to the Homeless

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Last year, Stanford University student Joshua Browder launched a free chatbot called DoNotPay, which provides legal advice to help people in New York and London get out of parking tickets. In just a few short months, his robot lawyer successfully contested 160,000 tickets with a 64 percent success rate. Now, Ars Technica reports, the 19-year-old coder and his robotic pal are tackling a new issue: homelessness.

Browder’s updated DoNotPay chatbot will help people in the UK who are facing eviction. Not only will the bot provide free legal advice, it will also draft form letters to help people apply for emergency housing. In order to create the bot, Browder teamed up with UK homelessness charity, Centrepoint, whose lawyers helped him finesse the advice his robot lawyer provides. The easy-to-use bot asks users questions that could be pertinent to an individual’s case, then generates recommendations based on their specific situation.

"What is most exciting for me is not only that it is completely free (currently the only alternative is to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars), but also that it will write the letter to maximise the applicant's chances," Browder told Ars Technica. "For example, it will rearrange the letter to focus on how a mental illness means that an application should be a priority."

While homelessness is a more complex problem than getting out of a parking ticket, Browder hopes his robot lawyer will at least provide a starting point for people facing eviction. He told The Washington Post that he was inspired to begin work on the bot’s housing aid features after receiving multiple requests for help from DoNotPay’s users.

“I started to receive a large number of messages about evictions and repossessions, and noticed that they were at the highest levels ever recorded,” he explains. “I felt bad that I didn’t have the knowledge to personally help people, especially since they were being made homeless.”

[h/t Ars Technica]

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