A&O hires ‘Harvey’ chatbot to help lawyers

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By Emily Hinkley on


ChatGPT-style tool can tackle contract analysis, due diligence and more

Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy (A&O) has embraced a new ChatGPT-style tool to assist lawyers with various aspects of legal work.

The new platform, dubbed ‘Harvey’, is designed to increase efficiency by helping lawyers with tedious tasks such as contract analysis, due diligence, litigation and regulatory compliance.

Over 3,500 of A&O’s lawyers will have access to the new super-paralegal, which the firm says will enable them to create and access legal information with improved speed and quality across multiple offices and languages.

The tool uses a combination of natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics to automate and streamline the more formulaic aspects of legal work. The firm does stress, however, that all output is carefully reviewed and fact checked by lawyers.

City firms have been playing with AI-backed technologies for years but this is understood to be the first instance of its use in the Magic Circle.

A&O has a reputation for being a tech-savvy firm and was one of the first firms to launch an in-house own technology and innovation hub in 2017. The Fuse hub houses new tech start-ups free of charge within a specially designed area of the firm’s London office.

But those concerned about the rise of our robot overlords can be reassured, as the Magic Circle player says that Harvey will not replace any of its workforces or reduce billable hours.

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David Wakeling, head of the firm’s markets innovation group, commented:

“I have been at the forefront of legal tech for 15 years but I have never seen anything like Harvey. It is a game-changer that can unleash the power of generative AI to transform the legal industry. Harvey can work in multiple languages and across diverse practice areas, delivering unprecedented efficiency and intelligence. In our trial, we saw some amazing results.”

The start-up behind the tool, which is also called Harvey, received £5 million in seed funding from the OpenAI Startup Fund, an initiative run by the creators of the headline-grabbing ChatGTP tool. The firm first trialled the bot in November 2022, in a test led by a group of lawyers and developers tasked with “disrupting the legal industry”.

Wim Dejonghe, Senior Partner at A&O, said:

“This announcement marks a new era for A&O and the legal industry. Harvey AI is not just another platform, but a game-changer that will enable us to deliver unprecedented value, efficiency and innovation to our clients. We are proud to be the first law firm to partner with Harvey AI. We share their vision of using technology to enhance and transform legal services.”

News of A&O’s new bot follows a wave of interest in its relative, ChatGTP. One US professor claimed the bot should be taught to students as a legal research tool, while a top barrister voiced concerns that students using the tool during exams and assesments risk damaging degree credibility.

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