Allen & Overy integrates ChatGPT-style chatbot to boost legal work

Magic Circle firm partners with OpenAI-backed legal startup Harvey to introduce ‘game-changer’ tool

Allen & Overy (A&O) has partnered with a startup backed by ChatGPT creator Open AI to introduce a chatbot intended to help its lawyers with a variety of legal tasks. 

The Magic Circle firm has rolled out the tool – named Harvey – across its network of 43 offices to automate and enhance tasks including contract analysis, due diligence and regulatory compliance. 

David Wakeling, head of A&O’s markets innovation group, described Harvey as a “game-changer” that can work in multiple languages and across diverse practice areas, delivering unprecedented efficiency and intelligence.”

Wakeling added the firm had seen “some amazing results” during trials for the tool, which began last November and saw around 3,500 of its lawyers ask Harvey around 40,000 questions relating to their day-to-day client work.

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GLP understands that A&O is the first among the UK’s Magic Circle to introduce this kind of generative AI across its network for use in active cases. 

The move comes against a background of growing pressure on law firms to use technology to deliver work more flexibly and efficiently and offset years of salary raises among their junior employees. Harvey uses natural language processing, machine learning and data analytics to automate tasks and can answer questions asked in natural language. 

A&O emphasised that the Harvey’s output would need “careful review” by one of its lawyers – it comes with a disclaimer that it can still “hallucinate”, meaning it can produce inaccurate or misleading results. But the firm said Harvey could help generate insights, recommendations and predictions based on large volumes of data, ‘enabling lawyers to deliver faster, smarter and more cost-effective solutions to their clients’.

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Harvey is the product of a startup of the same name that was founded last year by former O’Melveny & Myers antitrust litigator Winston Weinberg and former DeepMind and Google Brain scientist Gabriel Pereyra.

The start-up received £5m in seed funding last November in a round led by OpenAI Startup Fund – an initiative run by the creators of the much-hyped ChatGTP, an AI chatbot that can parse text and answer questions convincingly. The Harvey chatbot was itself built using the GPT technology that was created by OpenAI.

Pereyra told TechCrunch in an interview following the investment that Harvey was not intended to replace lawyers but to serve as an intermediary between tech and lawyer.  “Harvey will make lawyers more efficient, allowing them to produce higher-quality work and spend more time on the high-value parts of their job,” he said.

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