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Is Artificial Intelligence reshaping the legal profession?

Artificial intelligence is on the tip of everyone’s tongues at the moment. From the professional service industry, to our everyday lives; there’s no arguing that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic right now. In fact, you may have seen our recent article about the current advancement in artificially intelligent systems, and the uncertainty surrounding their rising impact. 

So far, the UK government has taken a pro-innovation approach to AI regulation, which they backed up with recent announcements in the Spring Budget. Amidst announcing measures to strengthen the UK’s global position on AI, Jeremy Hunt shared plans for funding towards improving the UK’s AI capacity, as well as following all of the digital technology recommendations from Sir Patrick Vallance. 

Following the government’s support of the UK’s use of AI, it’s becoming clear how the technology can be harnessed to simplify everyday tasks across a range of professional sectors. In one of the latest legal tech developments, Magic Circle firm, Allen and Overy have introduced Harvey, an AI chatbot which has been heralded as a “super paralegal.” David Wakeling, head of Allen and Overy’s Markets Innovations Group, has claimed that the chatbot will enable “unprecedented efficiency and intelligence.” 

During trials taking place since November 2022, 3,500 Allen and Overy lawyers asked Harvey approximately 40,000 questions pertaining to their day-to-day legal work. The results demonstrate that Harvey is an AI system which can be used in a range of legal tasks, from drafting merger and acquisition documents and conducting due diligence, to generating insights, recommendations and predictions based on large volumes of data. 

What does this mean for law firms?

Understandably, the question from many solicitors is how this will impact billing clients. Allen and Overy have, however, insisted that there are no plans to reduce billable hours as a result of Harvey. In fact, representatives have stated that this is not a cost-cutting exercise, and it does not pose a threat to the firm’s workforce. 

Indeed, the work output from Harvey still requires “careful review” by lawyers at Allen and Overy. As with ChatGPT, there are concerns about its ability to “hallucinate” – potentially causing inaccurate or misleading results. Naturally, this could be detrimental within the legal sphere, and so all automated work will be subject to checks before it is put before clients or utilised by the workforce. Allen and Overy claim that, as with the legal tech before it, Harvey simply aims to “make lawyers more efficient, allowing them to produce higher quality work and spend more time on the high-value parts of their job.” This is in line with the Law Society’s predictions for the evolution of the role of a lawyer. With technology shouldering the burden of the more basic work, it frees up time for solicitors to focus on more complex work, providing more value to the client and the firm.  

What next?

It is unlikely to stop here – Harvey is set to become one of many forms of legal technology from Allen and Overy, who have something of a reputation as a driver of legal tech. They launched Fuse, their inhouse legal hub, in 2017; this has already pulled together various legal tech and fintech companies – including Harvey – to collaborate with the firm on emerging technologies. Following Allen and Overy’s successful trial period, other firms seem to be following suit. More recently, PWC announced the beginning of a contract with Harvey. The firm cited similar reasons to Allen and Overy, with regards to their trialling of Harvey, in that it boosts efficiency for their legal team.

If you would like advice about the adoption of Artificial Intelligence for your business, or need to talk to us about how your own interests may have been affected by them, please get in touch at

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Natalya McPartland

Author Natalya McPartland

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