Does that help you automatically sue Equifax? No, no it doesn’t. Filling out the form is step one of a multistep process. I’m not an expert on small claims court in the US but it looks like you’re in for a lot of work and potentially a lot of trouble. It also doesn’t explain the process you need to follow and that missing context can cause you more headaches than this solves.
I don’t want to downplay the filling out of court forms. They are notoriously difficult to fill out properly and can be rejected by the court for even the smallest mistake. It’s not unheard of to have to fill out a form three or four times before it gets accepted.
DoNotPay is not a technical or legal marvel. If you asked a developer, they’re not going to be particularly impressed by a chatbot that fills out some generic legal forms for you or queries a database using keywords. Lawyers would think even less of it, arguing that the work it does is trivial and that the lack of substantive legal information is potentially dangerous. To that I’m sure Browder would respond that that trivial work is saving people a lot of money.
They would all be right. They would all also be missing the most important thing DoNotPay does. It empowers the user by letting them feel like they can tackle the problem themselves. The problem with the legal system is that people don’t feel they have agency or capacity. Many people can handle legal problems without a lawyer. In fact many are forced to. In Canada it’s estimated that up to 80% of family law cases are self-represented. That’s not good and this chatbot isn’t going to help with that. What it can do though is give people the confidence they need to proactively tackle these issues.
I asked the question before if DoNotPay lived up to the hype. Maybe it doesn’t, but hype is the product here. Browder may not have invented the second-coming of the legal system but he has created and publicized a tool that has engaged people and left them feeling empowered and feeling like they can get justice.
That’s the lesson I want to take away. The justice system for many people is a juggernaut and chipping away at it and creating a David and Goliath situation means that many people are taking action when they wouldn’t have before. There are a lot of other issues, climate change for example, that feel daunting but where small actions from a lot of people can have an impact. We just need to make them feel like they can make a difference.