London law firm Mishcon de Reya has struck a deal with UCL to fund research into use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal sector.
Mishcon’s decision to fund research into AI comes as the firm now believes AI technology will revolutionise the legal sector and transform the ways that lawyers work.
In striking a deal with UCL, Mishcon is set to fund PhD student Yao Lu’s research into AIs that are able to read and interpret documents.
Speaking to City A.M. Alistair Moore, head of analytics and machine learning at Mischon de Reya, explained that AI technology has developed rapidly over the past three years, as he claimed AIs are now showing “human level performance” in certain tasks.
Moore explained that AIs could be used to sift through tens of thousands of documents in hours, and that we may even see AIs answering legal questions.
“Going forwards, you could train a large language model on a legal corpus and then expect it answer legal questions,” Moore said
The Mishcon computer expert explained that AIs have gone from a state of barely having worked three years ago, to having “GCSE level comprehension” today.
Looking towards the next decade, Moore said law firms will soon have to start considering whether to replace lawyers with AIs, as he claimed we are likely to get to a point at which the computer beats the human every time within the foreseeable future.
However, Moore said law firms will always need human lawyers, particularly in client facing roles, as he said firms will soon need to decide whether its worth paying trainees to carry out grunt work when it could be done by AIs.
“There’s an interesting question, that is likely come in the next ten years, which is how much human work will we continue to do manually, to ensure people have experience working in practice,” Moore said.
The comments come as salaries for newly-qualified lawyers continue to soar amid a battle for legal talent and booming demand for legal services.