Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Expert Systems in Heavily Statutory Areas of Law

The Problem

Law is (almost by necessity) a human endeavor. The abstract understanding required to interpret law and create an argument beneficial to one's client is difficult to master and near impossible to translate into code at this time. But there is little to no effort being made into research that would take reduce to programming areas of law which are strictly interpreted according to statute.

Certainly, blogs such as this one are designed and maintained by attorneys to educate the public as best as one can. Truth be told, however, there is almost no substitute for legal training. But certain areas of law are heavily interpreted by statutes, such as Fla. Stat. Ch. 83 (2012), Florida's landlord tenant laws. This set of laws and the procedures involved are easily reduced to programming capable of not only helping non-lawyers, but attorneys new to landlord tenant issues.

One of the worst problems facing the legal field today is the inability for the poor and underprivileged to obtain solid legal counsel when they need it the most. Florida issues are often addressed by attorneys at local legal aid groups, where panicked (and sometimes embarrassed) tenants facing an eviction are staring at immediate homelessness if they are being forced to leave within the quick procedural time frames under Fla. Stat. Ch. 51.011. Answers are often informal, and disjointed, leaving already frazzled judges to muddle their way through a hearing to see if a defense even exists.

The result is a legal battleground which is tilted in favor of landlords, even those who are violating the rights of their tenants.

The Solution

How does one get help to the unknown scores of people getting evicted who are afraid to approach and consult an attorney at legal aid? How can one include those who do not know about legal aid but are hunting for information online? What about attorneys who are new to the practice of landlord tenant law?

The answer is already here: artificial intelligence and expert systems are already making some headway into other fields, like medicine. See this experimental A.I. doctor online so see an example. Mistakes will be made at first, but the potential exists to allow patients to speak with an A.I. doctor first, and then take that doctor's recommendation to an actual doctor. As development continues, and patients gain more confidence in the system, the error rate will plummet and doctors will be able to save tons of time diagnosing patients and treating them.

So goes the doctor, so should the lawyer. There is little to excuse why a lucrative field of professionals cannot begin creating at least an expert system to assist the poor on the internet. This system could not only help the poor craft defenses in the absence of an attorney, but help attorneys insure that all bases are covered when they themselves are helping a patient... I mean, client.

This simultaneously creates a clearing house for the poor needing assistance, and improves the quality of legal representation in the Profession.


The author and the Law Offices of Jimmy Allen Davis, P.L. are currently writing a program to help landlords and tenants (first) to navigate their way through the eviction process. The program is called eLegal (see what I did there?) and is in pre-beta development at the moment. No link is available yet, but once it is, this post will be edited to reflect that.

The goal is to of course improve the Profession through automation, encourage more "professional" pro se activity, and provide affordable access to legal resources for those unable to afford a biological attorney. The vision is to create a A.I. partner/paralegal for a law firm.


Jimmy Davis is a practicing attorney in the Central Florida area. He practices in many areas of law, but is most interested in family and business law. He is particularly interested in the aftermath of Constitutional and Florida Constitutional rulings and how they help or hinder his clients' interests. He is available for free consultations on a variety of legal topics. 

Visit for more information.