Skip to main content

Weightmans partners with University of Liverpool and Kira Systems to develop AI capable of legal reasoning

Technology will be used to improve and advance the client experience, law firm says.

National law firm Weightmans has partnered with the University of Liverpool and software company Kira Systems to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) solution capable of extracting data to power a decision engine capable of carrying out legal reasoning.

The solution can identify arguments for settling cases and speed up decision-making by combining the metadata extraction capabilities of Kira with a legal decision engine created jointly by experts at the University of Liverpool and Weightmans.

It has undergone proof of concept testing in Weightmans' insurance practice and will be used to support its lawyers and deliver real-world solutions for clients. Weightmans anticipates the technology being used by Autumn this year.

Weightmans has been working with the University of Liverpool's Head of Computer Science, Professor Katie Atkinson, and Professor Trevor Bench-Capon — a renowned global expert on AI and law — on the project since 2016. It has been making use of recent AI developments, particularly from the field of computational argumentation, to model legal reasoning and challenges within this such as reflecting changes in the law, for use in AI applications.

The firm has now signed a deal with Kira Systems, the leading provider of contract review and analysis software, to provide the data extraction capabilities required for the decision engine. Kira automatically identifies and extracts material contract metadata into an exportable summary, which then is fed into the decision engine to assist with decision-making and argument identification. The technology has been proven to reduce the amount of time spent on individual cases while maintaining a high standard of legal advice and a clear audit trail — all passing on value and delivering consistency for clients. The firm is developing the solution and expanding it into other practice areas.

Stuart Whittle, Director of Innovation at Weightmans said:

"The pace of change in the professional services market requires us to deliver greater efficiency, accuracy and cost reduction for our business and our clients.

"Harnessing developments in next generation technology is key to this, but 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.

"We’ve focused on legal reasoning and information extraction because these are areas in which AI can potentially deliver massive gains in speed and accuracy of decision-making. We are excited to be partnering with Kira Systems in this regard, one of the most trusted contract analysis software products in the world."

In December 2017, in conjunction with the University of Liverpool, a paper on Weightmans’ approach was presented at the 30th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems in Luxembourg. Another more detailed paper is currently undergoing peer review, and the firm is working with several organisations and clients to create decision-making programmes in different areas of law.

Katie Atkinson, Professor of Computer Science and Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Liverpool said:

"The University of Liverpool has a long history of developing fundamental research in AI and Law and we are delighted to now be working with Weightmans to move that research into practice. Our collaboration aims to deliver improvements in case handling for Weightmans and its clients by making use of recent AI techniques within the innovative tools we are developing."

Chloe Doyle, Account Director EMEA at Kira Systems said:

"We are thrilled that Weightmans is successfully using Kira's technology in new and innovative ways. The combination of Kira's machine learning capabilities and the firm's in-depth expertise has allowed Weightmans to develop unique and highly efficient solutions for their clients.

"The firm had a vision to expand the use of our technology beyond the traditional due diligence and lease review applications and into the Litigation, Transactional and Claims business space. We are delighted to have played a part in their success."