Ep 213: DoNotPay, Legal Regulatory Reform, and the Op-Ed the ABA Wouldn’t Publish, with Maya Markovich and Tom Gordon
Today’s episode offers a different perspective on the DoNotPay controversy – and ended up having an unexpected twist.
Earlier this year, DoNotPay, which described itself as the world’s first robot lawyer, and its founder Joshua Browder became the subject of harsh criticism after paralegal Kathryn Tewson tested several of DoNotPay’s self-help legal apps and concluded they were little more than smoke and mirrors – in some cases getting the law wrong, in others failing even to deliver the promised output.
In the wake of Tewson’s allegations, this podcast recorded an exclusive interview with Browder, in which he called the criticism “a bit of a nothingburger.” I followed that Interview with one with Tewson, in which she described in detail how she tested the DoNotPay products and responded to Browder’s dismissal of her critique.
Following those events, our guests today, Maya Markovich, executive director and cofounder of the Justice Technology Association and executive in residence for Justice Tech at Village Capital, and Tom Gordon, executive director of Responsive Law, an organization that represents the consumers’ voice in the legal system, co-authored an op-ed in which they argued that reforms in the regulation of the practice of law, such as those implemented in Utah, could have prevented the DoNotPay debacle, since DoNotPay would have had to have been licensed and regulated.
They submitted their op-ed to the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation, which agreed to publish it in the Center’s biannual innovation trends report, slated to be released Aug. 1. In anticipation of that publication, LawNext host Bob Ambrogi recorded the interview you’re about to hear with Markovich and Gordon, in which they discussed their op-ed and their views more broadly on regulatory reform. The interview was scheduled to post Aug. 1, in conjunction with the op-ed’s publication that day.
But then the plan hit an unexpected twist. Instead of publishing the op-ed that day, the Center notified the authors that it had canceled the publication because of what it described as “political challenges” within the ABA, but that it had neglected to inform them of that.
Because this interview was recorded before the ABA canceled the op-ed, you will hear references to the ABA’s publication of the op-ed. But since that never happened, Markovich and Gordon allowed us to publish the op-ed on LawNext. Ambrogi has also written a blog post detailing the whole sordid story.
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