Generative AI set to change another industry

Onur Demirkol
Feb 23, 2023

Generative AI has helped humanity in many aspects in the last couple of years, and it continues its support now by including another industry.

Allen & Overy is a big law firm with 43 offices and around 3,500 workers. Apart from being a successful enterprise, it is also one of the industry's leaders in innovation and technology. Recently, David Wakeling approached OpenAI, founder of the famous chatbot ChatGPT, and asked for a small experiment that could potentially create a new era in the law industry. Lawyers working for the firm used the system to answer simple questions on law, which evolved into something much bigger.

Almost all lawyers working for the firm started using the AI tool. Eventually, this spike led to a partnership between Allen & Overy and OpenAI, announced by the law firm on February 15. Harvey is the name of the AI tool that helps lawyers at the company. According to the announcement, lawyers have been trialing Harvey since November 2022, and in the end, data showed that the A&O's lawyers had asked Harvey around 40,000 queries for their day-to-day client work.

"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," said David Wakeling, Head of the Markets Innovation Group, A&O.

It was known that AI tools had different abilities, such as generating images or texts and answering questions on niche subjects. For many, the only relation between law and AI was the lawsuit filed by some artists on image generator AIs. Now, Harvey is ready to help lawyers with basic tasks and help them save time and reduce the possibility of making easy mistakes. If you go to the official website of Allen & Overy, the first thing you will read on the home page is: "We are the first law firm to use generative AI based on OpenAI's GPT models."

Generative AI has helped humanity in many aspects in the last years, and it continues its support now with the inclusion of lawyers.

"Legal applications such as contract, conveyancing, or license generation are actually a relatively safe area in which to employ ChatGPT and its cousins. Automated legal document generation has been a growth area for decades, even in rule-based tech days, because law firms can draw on large amounts of highly standardized templates and precedent banks to scaffold document generation, making the results far more predictable than with most free text outputs," says Lilian Edwards, professor of law, innovation, and society at Newcastle University, according to Ars Technica.

Recently, a report regarding Microsoft's Bing hallucinating and giving wrong information to users hit the headlines. If such a thing happens in terms of law, that could lead to horrendous scenarios. Harvey's Founder and CEO, Gabriel Pereyra, contacted Ars Technica over email and said: "Our systems are finetuned for legal use cases on massive legal datasets, which greatly reduces hallucinations compared to existing systems." However, Wakeling says that Harvey has gotten some things wrong, which shouldn't be allowed. That is why they fact-check everything.

Harvey is the first step of innovation for Generative AI usage for lawyers, and it still has a long road ahead to reach perfection. It is still mesmerizing for many, but some have second thoughts about whether the law should be let in the hands of a computer. For now, it is considered a helping tool for lawyers, but we never know what will happen in the future.


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