A 20-year-old student entrepreneur who made headlines with a website that successfully challenged some 200,000 parking fines has revealed his next project to the Gazette. Joshua Browder (pictured) is working on a free tool that will enable law firms to build their own ‘chatbots’ along the lines of the one in his DoNotPay website. 

A chatbot, also known as a conversational agent, is a program which carries out a simulated conversation with human website users, generating replies to live queries. Browder told the Gazette that he is expanding his fleet of ‘robot lawyers’ from parking fines to homelessness. ‘Following the success of the robot in appealing parking tickets, I received a large number of messages about evictions and repossessions, which are at the highest levels ever recorded,’ he said.

The result is a chatbot that helps homeless people claim public housing. It is based on an algorithm which applies attributes and trends in successful application letters to live cases.

‘It works by asking questions to ensure the person is eligible before requesting specific details which it uses to generate a legally sound housing application that can be sent directly to the local authorities,’ he said. 

Browder is currently working on a tool that will enable law firms to build their own chatbots. ‘I believe that a large number of legal documents can be automated,’ he said, ‘so I am building a tool that requires no technical knowledge to create a bot in exchange for a link back to the firm’s website. This will enable me to expand the service from half a dozen bots to a thousand.’

Browder has received approaches from several US law firms and predicts a similar level of interest from UK legal services providers. He is working with several legal-focused charities, including Shelter, to create bots.