Allen & Overy introduces chatbot AI to lawyers in search of efficiency

Allen & Overy is introducing an AI chatbot to help its lawyers draft contracts, as the magic circle law firm looks to embrace the much-hyped technology to find efficiencies for lawyers and clients.

The London-based group told the Financial Times it launched a chatbot called Harvey after testing it since November for use in tasks such as drafting merger and acquisition documents or notes to clients.

Allen & Overy said it has yet to tell clients about the tool, which is now available to any attorney at the firm and to about 3,500 people overall.

While other groups are experimenting with similar technology, it is the first known use within the Magic Circle – a group of London-based law firms working on the City’s top deals – of introducing this type of “genital artificial intelligence” software across the firm. for use in active cases.

The move comes as companies across industries explore using the technology, spurred by the November release of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI that can analyze text and write persuasive answers to questions.

Harvey was built using the underlying GPT technology created by OpenAI. The start-up behind the tool, which is also called Harvey, raised $5 million last year, led by the OpenAI Startup Fund.

The technology, known as large language models, is poised to disrupt a number of industries that depend on generating large amounts of text, such as media, advertising and education.

This new wave of artificial intelligence systems has reawakened concerns about the technology’s threat to millions of jobs. But Allen & Overy said Harvey will not replace any of its workforce and will not reduce billable hours or save money for the firm or clients. The company said future versions of the technology could lead to cost reductions “eventually”.

“It’s not cutting anyone, it’s not a cost-cutting exercise, it’s a nice smart way of working,” said David Wakeling, head of the company’s procurement innovation team, which is made up of lawyers and developers. “It’s a time saver across the board.”

Although the company said a “significant purchase decision” had been made to launch Harvey, it did not say how much it cost.

Allen & Overy’s move comes amid growing pressure on law firms to embrace technology to find efficiencies for clients, after years of rising wages for their most junior staff.

Law firms have often used technology to provide work more flexibly, including by charging flat fees, rather than by the hour.

The AI ​​assistant comes with a disclaimer that its use should be supervised by licensed legal professionals and still has “hallucinations,” where the program may produce inaccurate or misleading results.

Attorneys will be notified that they need to review information generated by Harvey, Wakeling said. The company added that the main purpose of the tool was to create basic draft documents, which lawyers could use as a starting point for editing and improvement.

Experts have raised concerns about the ethics of using the technology in legal settings, where accuracy is paramount.

Karen Silverman, founder and CEO of The Cantellus Group, an AI consulting firm, said: “This version probably isn’t that useful, and any attorney using it other than for fun should use their skills to aggressively interrogate the results it receives. “

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