Building my first chatbot

I am studying for the bar exam.

It is not fun.

I have learned that when I need to do something I really do not want to do, to do that awful something in stages. And to reward mysellyf with each mini-finish.

So my reward for each legal chapter I complete is to work on building a chatbot. Seriously. Really. Stop laughing.

I am using a chatbot builder through the company called Motion.ai. But it is not easy. And the examples and documentation are skeletal at best. This company is new and the technology is new.

My goal for this first chatbot is for it to give an estimation of a child support amount. The chatbot user would not have a court order yet, nor would they have already talked to an attorney. They would not need to input any confidential or identifiable information either. 

In many states, child support is based upon a formula. But it’s not always straightforward. Texas seems to have one of the simpler formulas (Michigan’s is anything but simple)…. so I started here.

  1. The Texas Code that explains, in writing, how to calculate child support
  2. A web page on the Texas Attorney General’s website that is called a calculator

The problem with the Texas Code is it is legal writing and very, very long. You most definitely have to hire a lawyer to go through the Texas Code to give you your child support amount.

The web page calculator is pretty straightforward, but you need to have a child support order already. So in this case, you’ve already been to court and are NOW using a calculator? Weird. Confusing.

My chatbot was made to be used by either a non-custodial or custodial parent. It does not include every possible way to calculate child support. But it does give a person a beginning value. And then, the chatbot advises that the parent contact an attorney.

That is how I envision chatbots to work for lawyers. As an entry point. Not as a replacement.

To see my Texas child support chatbot,  click on the floating image on the right side of the screen that says “Bot”.