PwC is experimenting with chatbots to speed up its lawyers

PwC has announced a chatbot experiment aimed at speeding up the work of its 4,000 lawyers, in the latest sign that professional services firms are rushing to adopt artificial intelligence.

A 12-month deal with startup Harvey will give the lawyers access to legal AI, which PwC says would help them work faster on tasks like analyzing contracts and conducting due diligence.

The Big Four firm said it also plans to find ways to use the service in its tax practice.

Allianz is the latest example of a professional services firm experimenting with “generative” AI since the launch of ChatGPT. The AI ​​chatbot developed by Microsoft-backed OpenAI has sparked interest in the technology’s potential to help businesses become more efficient.

Harvey’s software was built using OpenAI’s latest technology, GPT-4, which the company says appears to have far greater legal thinking ability than its predecessor.

Carol Stubbings, PwC’s global leader in tax and legal services, said the technology “marks a tremendous shift in the way tax and legal services are delivered and consumed across the industry”.

The company said the technology would speed up decision-making by providing answers to questions, which staff would then review and add to.

Because it’s able to analyze massive amounts of text and write compelling answers to questions, it can also be used to pull together key clauses from batches of contracts, PwC said, and eventually initial due diligence reports based on instructions from create lawyers.

The Big Four firm said it plans to use the Harvey platform to develop bespoke products for tax and legal clients.

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The AI ​​would not serve as legal advice and would not replace lawyers, according to PwC.

Exploring the use of AI by the professional services industry is the latest development in the ongoing shift toward automating routine tasks.

Bain & Co and the Boston Consulting Group are experimenting with OpenAI, among other things.

Law firm Allen & Overy is already using Harvey, but has insisted the technology would not replace staff, reduce billable hours, or save money for the firm or its clients. The technology could help to reduce costs in the future, it said.

Harvey’s competitor, Robin AI, said it provides services to two Big Four consulting firms and law firm Clifford Chance, which use the software to review and edit contracts. Their services are based on technology developed by US start-up Anthropic.

“The goal is to automate the high-volume work that nobody should be doing,” said Richard Robinson, Robin’s chief executive.

Despite the widespread interest, some advisors are concerned about the impact on data and confidentiality.

Consulting firm Accenture has banned its employees from using ChatGPT and similar technologies “without permission.” The company, which employs more than 700,000 people, told employees in an email accessible to the Financial Times that it had updated its policies on confidentiality and the use of technology to prevent disclosure of sensitive information.

It also said it would establish a generative AI “centre of excellence” to advise on “responsible uses.” It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Municipal law firm Mishcon de Reya has also instructed employees not to upload customer information to chatbot tools. The firm said its data science team and some of its attorneys are discussing how the technology could be used by the firm.

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Additional reporting by Kate Beioley