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Software Can Resolve Some Small Claims and Family Law Disputes
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Summary: Online programs are eliminating the need for attorneys and judges for cases over parking tickets, tax assessments, and even divorce.

There may be a time very soon when neither lawyers nor a judge are needed to solve cases. A Silicon Valley company, Modria, has been working on transforming the law into computer code to solve legal disputes. For now the computer programs will be able to relieve the courts of small claims cases, traffic fines and even some family law issues.


The hope is to someday be able to handle complex matters online. Modria’s co-founder Colin Rule stated “There is a vision of the future when computers get so good that we trust them to play this role in our society, and it lets us get justice to more people because it’s cheaper and more transparent.”

The company’s software is currently being used in Ohio to resolve disputes on tax assessments, by an arbitration association based in New York to settle medical claims from some types of car accidents, and in the Netherlands to guide clients through divorces. The program guides people through over two dozen questions, including custody arrangements. The program suggests the amount for spousal support. The second module of the program is used to negotiate any areas of disagreement between the couple. If a resolution can be reached, the divorce papers are printed and taken to an attorney to review and sign off on them. This makes sure that one spouse isn’t getting an unfair amount.

The program first launched in February with hundreds having now used it. The software was originally designed to solve customer disputes of late deliveries or damaged items for eBay and PayPal. EBay says the system is solving an average of 60 million a year.

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Another company, Court Innovations, in Michigan has similar technology that they use for traffic disputes. There are four court districts in Michigan that allow those ticketed for speeding or running a red light to go online and explain the situation for a chance of lowering the ticket or getting it removed. Prosecutors then review it and make a final determination that gets transmitted to the scofflaw to reject or accept the decision.

The company’s CEO MJ Cartwright says “When you’re online, there’s a lot you don’t know about that person such as their race and other things that can cloud the decision-making process.”

There are other computer programs that are transforming the legal industry. Read about them here:

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