In layman’s terms. AI is “the ability of a computer or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment”. AI has already had a profound impact across every aspect of our lives from healthcare to politics and how we vote.
There are two things clients want nowadays: better services for less money. The legal industry is beginning to understand how AI can be leveraged to provide this: AI can be used for quick and accurate contract reviewing, document drafting, preliminary legal advice, etc.
As law firms have begun building their AI capabilities, the race is on to be a competitive law firm.
On 15 February 2023, Allen & Overy announced their integration with Harvey AI. More specifically, Harvey AI (which describes itself as ‘unprecedented legal AI’) uses ChatGPT technology to assist with producing and automating legal work.
From automating client contracts to conducting precise due diligence, with this tool, lawyers can deliver “faster and more cost-effective solutions for client issues”. Allen & Overy believes this will empower more than 3,500 of their lawyers globally, especially with the tool’s ability to operate in multiple languages.
The firm’s unique eye for promising technology meant that it has witnessed benefits and service improvements from this integration at an impressive rate.
Macfarlanes soon followed and, on 21 September 2023, the firm announced its own rollout of Harvey AI, as part of its ongoing AI strategy.
According to Harvey Co-founder and President, Winston Weinberg, Macfarlanes has been an “invaluable collaborator in testing and refining” the platform pointing to the firm’s tenacity to be pioneers in the tech industry.
Harvey AI is still in its beta phase and with many other law firms expressing interest in also integrating with the tool, it has the power to “transform the legal industry, delivering unprecedented efficiency and intelligence”.
LUCY uses natural language generation to read results found across an organisation’s knowledge and provide summaries to the users’ questions. Lucy Synopsis also allows the toil to join conversations on platforms like Teams and Slack.
Since their announcement on 24 January 2023, Clifford Chance has used LUCY to automate parts of their corporate-law transaction, present clauses in Excel sheets, integrate information into reports and so forth.
This is the firm’s first legal tech tool tailored to the requirements of their clients and was developed by lawyers from the firm’s Innovation & Best Delivery teams.
Notably, Latham & Watkins invested quite early into the AI game. In 2017, the firm adopted Kira.
Kira Systems software uses machine learning technology to automate the extraction and analysis of key provisions from contracts to support the accuracy in due diligence, contract reviews, regulatory compliance, etc.
More specifically, the tool has assisted the firm in the review of its documents for M&A and other transactions. According to the CEO and co-founder of Kira Systems, the firm is “at the forefront of innovation in the legal sector”.
One of White & Case’s biggest achievements in the AI world was in 2020 when they deployed LawGeex. LawGeex describes itself as an “extension” of a legal team, automating legal work, redlining and negotiating contracts better, faster and cheaper than lawyers.
This move is both striking and significant because LawGeex is mainly used by corporate legal teams, such as those at eBay and Office Depot, as opposed to law firms. As law firms and clients are increasingly seeking automation to solve their problems, this move exemplifies the firm’s quick ability to get ahead of the tech curve.
Linklaters has its own GenAI chatbot, built using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI services. This tool enables its employees to get digestible and quick solutions to their legal queries based on a review of thousands of Linklaters documents.
Microsoft’s Azure services ensure that prompts and responses using the tool are kept within a secure environment. The firm is also working with Google’s Cloud Vortex AI platform to improve the speed and accuracy of GenAI’s search capabilities.
It also uses its GenAI tool for its programme ‘CoCounsel’, which helps lawyers with tasks such as summarising documents, preparing witness statements, legal research, extracting contract data, etc. As the firm explains GenAI “has the potential to revolutionise legal knowledge search capabilities”.
Finally, as of May 2023, Travers Smith has launched its latest open source project. Created by the firm’s “pioneering” Legal Tech team, ‘YCNBot’ allows organisations to replace their consumer-facing ChatGPT with a more suited chatbot.
This chatbot uses API technology to provide more enhanced controls around compliance, security and data privacy for businesses that handle sensitive and confidential information.What’s great is that this tool is available for anyone to download and deploy free of charge, through an open source license.
This is an example of Travers Smith’s growing grasp of AI and its commitment to anticipating future needs and providing pioneering solutions to new industry demands.
Recently, Vault released their rankings for ‘2024’s Best Law Firms for Technology & Innovation’. This was based on an annual associate survey conducted from January to March 2023.
Amongst the law firms that have practices in the UK, Clifford Chance (US LLP) ranked 1 overall, whilst Latham & Watkins placed 17th, White & Case placed 20th and Linklaters placed 25th.
Despite what many people may think, AI will not be replacing humans – and in this case: lawyers. The best law firms are the ones that (will) use AI technology to enhance their human resources. Amongst the law firms in this blog, chatbot AI is very popular.
Chatbot AI allows lawyers to focus on more tasking and higher-level work and leave the menial, repetitive tasks to AI. AI only knows as much as it is trained to, so lawyers will always need to continuously refine their AI’s capabilities as they refine their own.
To help you prepare for your next round of interviews and to challenge you to reflect upon the impact of AI within the legal industry, we’ve prepared a list of commercial awareness questions:
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