Legal Tech Biz Lawhive Creates Lawrence The AI Paralegal

Law360, London (November 23, 2023, 7:00 PM GMT) --
Lawrence the AI Paralegal
Lawrence the AI Paralegal
A legal technology company said on Thursday that it has used the latest advances in artificial intelligence to create its own paralegal just as law firms work out how to use the technology to streamline legal tasks.

Lawhive, a U.K.-based online legal platform for consumers, said that it has built Lawrence. This is a paralegal that is powered by AI and is designed to help the solicitors the company uses to save time with their legal work.

For example, a human solicitor can feed information to Lawrence about a case and ask the paralegal for answers to specific questions without having to go over pages of notes, transcripts and files.

Lawhive works with fully-qualified solicitors across the U.K. to offer a simpler and more affordable service to clients who need legal advice in areas such as family law, litigation and employment. It pairs clients and solicitors together through its online platform.

The company said it had made Lawrence complete and pass the first half of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam run by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, known as SQE1, before he was allowed to support lawyers with real legal work. Lawrence passed the exam with a score of 74%.

According to Lawhive, the questions that Lawrence answered incorrectly were more complicated and involved "complex chains of logic and wider context." Lawrence also struggled to tell the difference between two legal concepts that shared similarities, such as public nuisance and private nuisance, Lawhive said.

Lawhive also made Lawrence speak to a client about a wills and probate case as part of an experiment that also involved a human solicitor. Lawrence was able to glean necessary information from the client, but the conversation was largely transactional and half the length of one conducted with a solicitor. The client later noted that Lawrence had not shown as much empathy as the solicitor.

Flinn Dolman, a co-founder of Lawhive, said on Thursday that AI has yet to reach a point where it can replace the value that a human connection provides in solicitor-client interactions.

But using AI that is "equipped with theoretical legal knowledge allows our legal experts and solicitors to create efficiencies and seek support with more minor legal tasks as client relationship and outcome takes priority," Dolan said.

Lawhive said it will continue testing how well Lawrence responds to various situations, as well as supporting its solicitors with different legal tasks.

A report by LexisNexis released in July found that most lawyers have mixed opinions about using so-called artificial intelligence technology to streamline their work, even though clients want law firms to use such tools.

A LexisNexis survey of more than 1,000 lawyers and other legal professionals in the U.K. found that almost all respondents — 95% — said "generative AI" will have a noticeable effect on the law. Almost half said it will be "significant" or "transformative," and nearly two-thirds noted that it will make legal professionals more efficient.

Many respondents to the survey acknowledged that the tools could be used for legal research, drafting documents and even document analysis, among other things.

However, nine out of 10 respondents raised concerns about the ethics of using generative tech, and barely more than a third have ever used it in a personal or professional capacity. Respondents also questioned the reliability of the data and legal content such technology generates.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority said on Monday that law firms must ensure they understand the risks involved with using artificial intelligence tools and oversee them in the same way they would a human employee.

Law360 is owned by LexisNexis Legal & Professional, a RELX company.

--Editing by Joe Millis.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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