By Sara Merken
(Reuters) -DoNotPay Inc, which says it uses artificial intelligence to help consumers and bills itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer,” is facing a new lawsuit from a prominent plaintiffs’ law firm that says the company is practicing law without a license.
DoNotPay “is not actually a robot, a lawyer, nor a law firm,” Chicago-based law firm Edelson said in a proposed class action in San Francisco state court dated March 3 and posted to the court’s public website Thursday.
Edelson filed the case on behalf of California resident Jonathan Faridian, who said he used San Francisco-based DoNotPay to draft demand letters, a small claims court filing and LLC operating agreements and got “substandard and poorly done” results.
DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder fired back on Thursday on Twitter, saying the claims have “no merit” and that Faridian has “had dozens of successful consumer rights cases with DoNotPay.”
Browder said Edelson founder Jay Edelson “inspired me to start DoNotPay,” claiming Edelson and lawyers like him enrich themselves through class actions with little benefit to consumers.
Edelson responded in an email that Browder and DoNotPay are trying to “distract from their misconduct in any way possible” and that “the problem for them is that DoNotPay has scammed so many people.”
Browder founded DoNotPay in 2015 with a focus on tasks such as fighting parking tickets, and it has expanded to include some legal services, the lawsuit said.
The promise of generative artificial intelligence tools for applications such as legal work has gained steam with the rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other AI “chatbots” in recent months. DoNotPay generated buzz earlier this year when Browder said on Twitter the company had plans to use an AI chatbot to advise a defendant in traffic court.
Browder also said his company would pay $1 million to anyone willing to wear headphones and use its robot lawyer for an argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Following criticism, he later said on Twitter that he had received “threats from State Bar prosecutors” and DoNotPay would postpone its traffic court case.
He also said in the January tweet that DoNotPay would immediately remove “non-consumer legal rights products.” According to the lawsuit, those products are still available on its website.
The lawsuit said DoNotPay violated California’s unfair competition law by engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. It seeks a court order declaring the company’s conduct unlawful and unspecified damages.
The case is Faridian v. DoNotPay Inc, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Francisco, No. CGC-23-604987.