WASHINGTON - It could be the Uber of legal services. The DoNotPay app has recently expanded to add a feature that will allow you sue a person or company with just a click of a button.
The new feature launched last Wednesday and it has already been downloaded 25,000 times. The best part is it's completely free and it can actually win in court.
The app was created by Joshua Browder, a 21-year-old Stanford University student who is currently studying computer science. Browder created the app to help him and others fight expensive traffic tickets, but he eventually expanded it to help people reverse bank fees and get refunds on airline tickets whose price dropped after they were purchased.
He has even helped victims of the Equifax data breach successfully sue and recoup damages after their personal information was leaked.
Now the app claims you can sue anyone in America by pressing a button. The app will ask you a few questions about your legal dispute. A bot then uses the answers to classify the case into one of 15 different legal areas. From there, the app instantly generates and fills out all of the documents needed to take the person or company to court. All you have to do is print it out, mail it to the courthouse and you are a plaintiff. It's that simple. It will even send you a script to read in court.
"I'm trying to remove the word lawyer from the dictionary," said Browder. "So everything an average person would ever want, beating bureaucracy or fighting companies, you can get done hopefully in the app."
Right now, it's just for small claims up to $25,000, but Browder hopes to one day expand the app to other areas of the law.
"In all areas of the law, I think lawyers are charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for copying and pasting a few documents," said Browder." Today, the DoNotPay app only helps with minor issues under $25,000 and under $10,000 in other states, but in the future, it should be able to help with everything. Access to the law for free - that should scare you if you are a lawyer making millions of dollars or thousands of dollars a year."
The app can also help people claim money from class action settlements.
"Global estimates put over $200 billion just waiting to be claimed by consumers, but no one can figure out if they are eligible because they can't remember where they shopped or where they did business," Browder said. "So the app will look at your receipts and instantly tell you where to claim, and if you want to claim something, all you have to do is swipe right just like on dating apps."
Some attorneys are obviously not too keen on the idea, fearing this could one day put them out of business.
But others like Seth Price, the managing partner of Price Benowitz LLP, think it's a great idea. Price says he doesn't see it as a threat or a way to replace an attorney, but rather a resource for people underserved by the legal system.
"If someone has dispute with their landlord for a few thousand dollars, that is a lot of money, but the court system usually requires a lawyer and that lawyer may take a retainer worth more than the actual amount in dispute," Price said. "So the idea that you can empower people to fight micro-transactions is an awesome potential."
The app is completely free. It will not charge you a fee or take a cut of your settlement like an attorney would. Browder says he has already received $1.1 million in seed funding and may charge people for more customized legal services in the future.