Application of AI in the legal market

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the development of technological systems which are able to perform tasks that would ordinarily require human intelligence.

We are exploring AI with a view to keeping our business relevant in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution. We see AI as being a big future player in the legal sector. As a key strategic partner to many clients, we understand our responsibilities to take full advantage of technology to aid our service delivery solutions.

Our innovation strategy and what success looks like

Our innovation strategy is linked to utilising new and emerging technologies to make us agile in a very dynamic market. We are trialling and utilising AI across our business including PI, corporate, commercial, real estate and internal business use cases.

"Technology and how we use it as lawyers is key to the customer proposition but must add value: that may be sector insights, efficiencies to save cost of time or a better customer journey, all to deliver improved client outcomes"

Rob Williams, Head of Insurance.

Success for us with legal AI will enable our lawyers to focus only on those elements of the work that they currently do that requires proper, formal, legal input.

Weightmans’ Innovation Group have learnt much through experimenting

For example:

  • In terms of AI, everything still starts with collecting or extracting the raw data reliably, using legal reasoning to make a decision before recycling those insights to inform or change future actions.
  • Much of what is termed AI is simply "clever search". Very clever to be fair, but "search" nonetheless.
  • We cannot innovate alone. Our role in the AI world is as legal subject matter experts deployed in collaboration with clients, academia and software experts to deliver practical solutions that fix our clients’ problems.
  • The key is being clear as to the precise nature of the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Sometimes what you end up with is not what you started out to fix but the exercise of Innovation can nevertheless result in products and solutions that turn out to be useful in their own right.
  • None of the technology is in fact ‘magic’, although it can appear so. It also requires a lot of human input in the background, before the magic can happen.

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How is our innovation progressing?

The Innovation Group are undertaking several proofs of concept and are working with several major clients on some of the projects. We have looked at the legal reasoning side of legal AI to explore how AI can assist with decision making and we have also explored information extraction. We are also looking to see how the application of data science can derive insights from the data which we hold on matters for a number of our clients and for our own internal benefit.

Our approach is grounded in computer science theory and we are currently working with Liverpool University (as well as a number of commercial organisations like Kira) to look to see how we may apply AI based legal technology to the work that we do. We are one of the first collaborations between academia and commercial organisations in a study on law and technology, allowing academics the opportunity to put their theories into practice.

Our research and development has narrowed our focus to two approaches, both of which do different things and solve two different problems. The first product we have trained and are currently testing is a system that is designed to extract data from documents. We are experimenting with it in a number of ways and are working closely with clients in the insurance and corporate sphere.

The second approach we are testing can apply logic to a given set of facts utilising a decision engine approach from our work with the University. We have several different areas of law being developed using this software, including assisting with making liability decisions in industrial deafness claims.

We are also working on linking up the information extraction and the decision engine approaches so that they can work together.

Our approach to innovation

"What I believe sets us apart is that our approach to innovation is about investing in how our people, rather than ‘robots’ alone, will advance the firm. Our employees and several clients are involved in analysing and testing the systems we’re developing and we’re benefiting from working with some of the country’s leading thinkers on the relationship between AI and the law."

Stuart Whittle, Business Services and Innovation Director.

British Legal Technology Awards 2018

We are delighted to support the British Legal Technology Awards 2018 as sponsor of the Alliance of the Year Award category. 

Taking place in London on 1 November, the awards acknowledge and reward excellence in Legal Technology and IT Security within the UK and European Legal Sectors. The Alliance of the Year Award recognises legal service providers and legal suppliers who have delivered excellence in collaboration. 

We are also delighted to have been nominated in two categories: Excellence in IT Security and Alliance of the Year.

To find out more, visit britishlegalitawards.com.

Can we help you?

We have an innovation process for working with clients to understand the problems they are trying to solve. We work with clients collaboratively to innovate around those issues, which may involve any combination of people, process and technology. Please contact us if we can help.

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