Chatbots and smart tech in law

Since the first “robot lawyer” hit the news in late-2015, legal artificial intelligence (AI) has seen an exponential take-up.

While Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) was first to deploy RAVN’s applied cognitive engine (ACE), RAVN’s clients now include major law firms and legal departments. RAVN recently hit the news for its role in expediting the Serious Fraud Office Rolls-Royce investigation and for its latest AI tool, which checks compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Popular tools include ROSS Intelligence, which carries out legal research, and Kira Systems, which undertakes mergers and acquisitions due diligence and contract analysis. Like RAVN, both products combine natural language processing and machine-learning. The system responds to queries without requiring particular terminology, and its output becomes increasingly accurate as it learns from experience and feedback.

More accessible AI offerings require no up-front investment. RAVN’s Extract is a plug-and-play version of the ACE product. Due diligence engine Luminance reads large volumes of data in different media contemporaneously and highlights exceptions and anomalies. Luminance does not require training and is deployed out of the box.

AI uptake

As legal AI matures, innovation is key to competitive advantage. “Winning firms will be able to combine large data sets with client and industry expertise to generate deep insights and automation,” says Bruce Braude, head of strategic client technology at BLP.

Isabel Parker, director of legal services innovation at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, agrees: “Successful firms will be teaching machine-learning algorithms using their own data sets and lawyers, and integrating different types of AI technology to create new products tailored to their clients’ requirements.”

While some firms, including Pinsent Masons and Linklaters, have developed AI tools in-house, others are building bespoke solutions on third-party platforms. Clifford Chance uses Kira Systems to create its own standard documents. Other firms have deployed Neota Logic, an AI platform for creating code-free apps, to provide self-service real-time legal advice. Neota also powers Robot Lawyer LISA, an online non-disclosure agreement generator created by legal futurist Chrissie Lightfoot and her team at AI Tech Support.

LISA works in a similar way to online chatbots that provide free access to justice. The trailblazer was Stanford University student Joshua Browder’s DoNotPay which has overturned more than 160,000 parking fines and handled over 3,000 emergency housing applications. DoNotPay’s latest chatbot, which operates on the Facebook Messenger platform, helps refugees with immigration applications in the United States and Canada, and asylum support applications in the UK.

Successful firms will be integrating different types of AI technology to create new products tailored to their clients’ requirements

While consumer and commercial technology has seen an explosion in voice-activated assistants, the legal sector is playing catch up. In April, business intelligence and analytics company Helm360 will launch Termi, a chatbot built on Microsoft’s cognitive services platform, which interrogates Thomson Reuters Elite legal practice management system via Skype, Microsoft Team or a web browser.

As Bimal Dave, Helm360’s executive vice president of products and services, explains, Termi will enable lawyers and managers to request billing and other management information. He says the idea is to “remove complexity and give users mobile access to relevant information without logging into multiple platforms”.